Proportionality in English administrative law: resistance and strategy in relational dynamics

Sophie Boyron, Yseult Marique

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Proportionality is at the centre of heated debates in English administrative law. It has been adopted for matters pertaining to European law and the European Convention on Human Rights, but its use in other parts of English administrative law is highly contentious. While some arguments in favour or against applying proportionality in England are similar to those exchanged in relation to other legal systems (such as tensions between increased objectivity in judicial control over administrative action vs. the desirability of a more limited control), other arguments are more specific to English administrative law. To understand the challenges encountered by proportionality in English administrative law this paper adopts a contextual analysis, putting the emphasis on the relational dynamics framing the interactions between the main actors involved in the proportionality test. Paradoxically, this perspective rehabilitates the analysis of the legal techniques behind transplants such as proportionality: indeed, transplants are vehicles for legal changes in ways that go beyond the circulation of ideas across the world. Instead of being merely superficial and rhetorical transplants engage deeply with the whole gamut of institutions and actors in a legal system, calling on them to rearticulate their implied and explicit relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-93
Number of pages29
JournalReview of European Administrative Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2021


  • English administrative law
  • Judicial politics
  • Proportionality
  • constitutionalism


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