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The Empirical Case for Judicial review: Judges as Agents and Judges as Trustees

Citation: Dyevre, Arthur (2010) The Empirical Case for Judicial review: Judges as Agents and Judges as Trustees. In: W G Hart Legal Workshop 2010: Comparative Aspects on Constitutions: Theory and Practice, 29th June - 1st July, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London. (Unpublished)


Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

Lawyers, constitutional theorists and political philosophers continue to disagree over the merits and legitimacy of judicial review. Borrowing insights from delegation theory, industrial organization as well as empirical accounts of judicial behaviour, this paper assesses two approaches to the justification of judicial review: (1) Following the Principal-Agent Model, judges are given the authority to review and invalidate legislation to enforce the choices of the constitutional framers over recalcitrant legislative majorities. (2) By contrast, under the Trustee Model, judges are given the power of judicial review to act as trustees of the political system: their task is to ensure that the legislative process produces the “best” outcomes or, at least, policies that are Pareto-optimal. While showing how the two models relate to traditional understandings of the role of judges, the paper assesses the extent to which the organizational setting of courts and the judges’ incentive structure ensure that judicial review works as each model prescribes. It is argued that, from an empirical standpoint, justifying judicial review is easier – albeit by no means unproblematic – under the Trustee than under the Principal-Agent Model.

Additional Information: Paper presented by Dr Arthur Dyevre, Max Planck Institute for International and Comparative Law.
Creators: Dyevre, Arthur and
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Subjects: Law
Keywords: Judges, Judicial review, Constitutionalism, Delegation theory, Judicial behaviour
Divisions: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Collections: W G Hart Legal Workshop papers
  • June 2010 (completed)


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