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Thematic Issue: Big Technology and the Law / General

Addressing Disconnection: Automated Decision-Making, Administrative Law and Regulatory Reform


Anna Huggins

Automation is transforming how government agencies make decisions. This article analyses three distinctive features of automated decision-making that are difficult to reconcile with key doctrines of administrative law developed for a human-centric decision-making context. First, the complex, multi-faceted decision-making requirements arising from statutory interpretation and administrative law principles raise questions about the feasibility of designing automated systems to cohere with these expectations. Secondly, whilst the courts have emphasised a human mental process as a criterion of a valid decision, many automated decisions are made with limited or no human input. Thirdly, the new types of bias associated with opaque automated decision-making are not easily accommodated by the bias rule, or other relevant grounds of judicial review. This article, therefore, argues that doctrinal and regulatory evolution are both needed to address these disconnections and maintain the accountability and contestability of administrative decisions in the digital age.

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(2021) 44(3) UNSWLJ 1048: