Admin Law Essay Example

  • Category:
    Law
  • Document type:
    Assignment
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    3
  • Words:
    1504

Introduction

The common law ground of illogicality and irrationality

The common law ground of illogicality and irrationality allows administrative decisions to be reviewed on the ground that no rational or logical decision-maker can arrive at a particular decision on related evidence. Recently, the High Court has confirmed the existence of ground of the judicial review that basically deal with issues related to illogical and irrational reasoning processes as cited in the case of Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZMDS [2010] HCA 161. This clearly shows that administrative decisions can be reviewed based on the ground that no rational or logical decision-maker can actually arrive at a decision on similar evidence.

Application of the ground in Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZMDS

In this case, the most fundamental question is to determine whether if the illogical and irrational reasoning is a ground of review. Initially, the idea of reviewing administrative decisions based on the illogical and irrational reasoning had been standardized by the high Court in regard to Applicant S20/2002 (2003) 77ALJR and SGLB (2004) 78 ALJR 992. Due to these decisions, the Federal Court was not quite clear whether illogicality or irrationality was an agreed ground of review. This uncertainty within the High Court’s thorough focus on the possibility of this ground of review was dismissed by SZMDS2.

It can be noted that the ground of illogicality and irrationality was applied in the case of Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZMDS where upon his arrival in Australia on a visitor visa, the respondent from Pakistan immediately decided to apply for a protection visa. The respondent feared to be persecuted if he would return to Pakistan due to his belief in the practice of homosexuality, and thus sought for protection from the minister. However, the application was not granted and the respondent opted to seek the merits review of the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT). The RRT held that since the respondent was not a homosexual, he could not be considered or entitled to protection.

After the respondent had made the final appeal to the Federal Magistrates Court over the judiciary review of the RRT’s decision, Moore J argued that the RRT had committed a jurisdiction error by reaching that conclusion concerning the respondent’s sexuality in an illogical manner of reasoning. Basing his argument on the issue of fact and principle, the minister made an appeal to the High Court because the RRT had failed to consider the ground of illogicality and irrationality in their reasoning process3. However, it was important for the RRT to consider that as far as the reasoning process is concerned, the issue of illogicality or irrationality alone does not contribute to jurisdictional error. Therefore, taking into considerations the idea of fact and principle, it can be argued that the minister took the necessary legal step to seek the decision or authority from the Federal Court on whether the issue of illogicality or irrationality had actually prevailed in the reasoning process of the RRT and if it constituted to a jurisdiction error.

It is important to note that a decision-making power can be considered effective only if a jurisdiction fact is established at the conclusion reached in a given case. The review in SZMDS case was a relevant example because the Minister’s power to grant the protection visa applied by a Pakistan respondent required the Minister to be first satisfied that the applicant of visa was entitled to the protection visa. This implies that such cases are purely limited to or basically solved based on factual issues.

Distinguishing the three judgments

Justices Crennan and Bell JJ, through Heydon J agreed on the basis that the decision made by the RRT was not clearly illogical or irrational to amount to a jurisdictional error. The justices argued that in circumstances where power could be conditioned on the satisfaction of a decision-maker, then the issue of illogicality or irrationality in the reasoning process of a decision-maker could only cause a jurisdictional error if there would be no rational or logical decision-maker who could arrive at that state from the related evidence. On the other hand, Justices Gummow ACJ and Keiefel J disagreed, they held that the reasoning process and decision of the RRT was illogical and a result of illogicality issue jurisdiction error occurred. The Federal Court also held that the respondent’s origin of events was reasonable and did not make the decision of RRT appropriately reasonable to constitute a jurisdiction error4.

Martin Smith in his article “According to law and not humor”, it can be noted that he examines the history and development of illogicality and administrative decision-making after SZMDS as orders of jurisdictional error at common law. Basically, the merits legality dichotomy within Australian administrative law as well as the position occupied by the illogicality grounds of review in the dichotomy is discussed in regard to the decision of the High Court in Australian Broadcasting Tribunal v Bond 1990 170 CLR 3215. It can be concluded that although the aspect of consistency is observed in the High Court’s decision in SZMDS concerning the development of the law, the variances in approach between respective joints judgments makes the law in a confused state.

Personal evaluation of the judgments, including the preference and justification

Generally, the judgment made by Justices Crennan and Bell provides a clear and detailed explanation of the ground of illogicality and irrational in reviewing administrative decisions than the judgment of acting chief Justice Gummow and Justice Kiefel. It can be argued that considering a decision as illogical or irrational means showing disagreement with it. This provides the view that different people may have reviewed the necessary information or materials but still make different conclusions.

The judgment of Crennan and Bell JJ is relevant because the Justices held that determining the subjective satisfaction of the decision-maker is a jurisdiction fact that can be considered for open review. It is quite interesting that the honors acknowledged a wide range of the established requirements that a given subjective pre-condition was expected to satisfy. It can be argued in support of Crennan and Bell JJ that a decision-maker cannot be sufficiently satisfied in circumstances where their decision is considered to be clearly unjust, arbitrary or based on Wednesbury unreasonable grounds. Therefore, it is a fact that irrationality or illogicality can cause a jurisdictional error only if its occurrence meets the satisfaction of the decision-maker.

Crennan and Bell JJ made a valid conclusion that irrationality or illogicality would not necessarily constitute jurisdiction error but only when the decision could be made by a rational or logical decision-maker. However, one conclusion must be open on the evidence but not reached, the decision reached must not be open and the evidence and inferences must not be related. Therefore, in regard to the original decision of RRT, it can be argued that the Honors took a valid stand when they held that a rational or logical decision-maker was appropriately required in the decision reached. The limitation of Gummow ACJ and KIEFEL J judgment is that it leaves a number of issues that still need to be discussed, for instance, the most fundamental issue concerns the subjective pre-condition to power on whether it can be considered a jurisdictional fact or in what circumstances it can be seen as non-jurisdictional?

Conclusion

Generally, the judgments of Acting Chief Justice Gummow and Justic Kiefel as well as Justices Crennan and Bell have not presented a uniform approach to the understanding of the issue of illogicality and irrationality. It is quite clear that the ground of illogicality and irrationality in reasoning process can be applied only in findings of jurisdictional facts because the High Court limits its applicability to jurisdictional facts. Apparently, in circumstances where a conclusion does not constitute a jurisdiction fact, it means the illogical and irrational ground of review will not be considered. Therefore, a jurisdictional fact is a crucial pre-condition to cases involving statutory power because it is a condition that has to be reached for the power of a decision-maker to be enlivened.

Works Cited

Martin Smith, “According to law, and not humor”: Illogicality and Administrative Decision-Making after SZMDS (2011) 19 AJ Admin L 33.

Michael Palfrey &Nicholas Swan, Illogical and irrational decisions — confirmed as a ground of judicial review for decision-makers,.Government Insights06 August 2010,

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZMDS (2010) 240 CLR 611

Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Ex parte Applicant S20/2002 [2003] 198 ALR 59

1
Michael Palfrey &Nicholas Swan, Illogical and irrational decisions — confirmed as a ground of judicial review for decision-makers,.Government Insights06 August 2010,

2
Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Ex parte Applicant S20/2002 [2003] 198 ALR 59

3
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZMDS (2010) 240 CLR 611

4
Michael Palfrey &Nicholas Swan, Illogical and irrational decisions — confirmed as a ground of judicial review for decision-makers,.Government Insights06 August 2010,

5
Martin Smith, “According to law, and not humor”: Illogicality and Administrative Decision-Making after SZMDS (2011) 19 AJ Admin L 33.