Procedural Discretionary Decisions and Access to Justice Before Administrative Tribunals
Weiner, Rachel Elizabeth
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This thesis considers procedural discretionary decision-making by administrative tribunals and access to justice for marginalized and low-income individuals. I begin by reviewing literature regarding discretionary decision-making, access to justice, procedural justice, and ideal theories focusing on transparent and respectful engagement and dialogue between decision-makers and litigants. I then analyze three case studies regarding procedural discretionary decision-making and accommodations in the hearing process, addressing primarily disability and language barriers experienced by litigants before the Social Benefits Tribunal, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and Landlord and Tenant Board. I then compare theories of discretionary decision-making with actual decision-making practices employed by tribunal adjudicators. While certain positive practices may play a role in achieving more meaningful engagement between decision-makers and parties, my analysis also reveals systemic barriers to access to justice and limitations of procedural discretionary decision-making by tribunals.