In the mid to latter part of the twentieth century, what has been described as a 'great depression' settled upon administrative law. This was most certainly the case in the United Kingdom where the absence of a constitution denied individuals from pointing to express rights which were entitled to respect at all times regardless of the circumstances of a decision or action which threatened those rights . However, change was instigated by the House of Lords in Ridge v Baldwin. Reid questioned the then present state of affairs, and ruled that once a power affects rights, it must be exercised fairly, and that because a power is administrative does not entitle it to be any less judicial. More recently in this jurisdiction attitudes have changed even further placing a requirement on decision makers within public law to provide reasons for decisions reached. Prior to such authority it was accepted that constitutional justice did not require reasoning for final decisions when given in the absence of a legislative requirement. Many unanswered questions still remain, which may be attributable to a number of underlying issues;
1. Is there a deep-rooted suspicion of the doctrine which attempts to hinder the function of public authorities, which have traditionally enjoyed 'special treatment'?
2. Does a recognition of a person's 'legitimate expectation' challenge the discretionary powers which administrative bodies enjoy?
3. The rights which the doctrine confers on the individual, are they merely procedural, or can they amount to substantive guarantees?
4. Is Legitimate Expectation simply a by-product of Promissory Estoppel, or is it a legal principle in its own right?
If it transpires that the consequence of the above have a detrimental effect on the doctrine's development, is it possible that certain aspects of the principle be re-evaluated, enabling it to be invoked with more success? These are some of the questions that will be dealt with in the course of this study.