Why Give Reasons for Decisions

September 8th 2015

It is essential, however, to recall at all times that the governmental action undertaken both by trial courts and appeal courts is one that is both the exercise of power and the explanation for that exercise of power. Part of that responsibility is the clear communication of the reasons for the exercise of power.

This article explains the rationale for giving reasons for decisions. In this context decisions refer to decisions of both administrative and judicial decisions makers. Although different authorities make these decisions they are fundamentally the same. This means that the rationale for reasons in each case is similar, subject to some variations of detail or emphasis in some aspects of the rationale. So, the function of reasons as expounded here is sometimes directed to courts but also applies to officials in the executive arm of government since they perform essentially the same task. Consequently the cases cited here refer to reasons for both judicial and administrative decisions. Generally what is said about judicial decisions applies to administrative decisions, although the standards in judicial decision making tend to be higher, reflecting the more formal nature of judicial decisions compared to administrative decisions.