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Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution$
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Nicholas Bamforth and Peter Leyland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199670024

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670024.001.0001

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The Instrumental Value of Legal Accountability

The Instrumental Value of Legal Accountability

(p.124) 6 The Instrumental Value of Legal Accountability
Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution

Jeff King

Oxford University Press

This chapter aims to present an account of the value of legal accountability by focusing on its role as an instrument that produces certain prima facie benefits. In Section B, it introduces the instrumentalist approach, defines legal accountability by reference to its core institutional attributes, and justifies speaking of the value of legal accountability in general and prima facie terms rather than only in particular contexts. In Section C, the chapter presents a list of ten prima facie benefits: focus; principled reasoning; constitutional authority; independence and impartiality; rule interpretation competence; procedural fairness competence; participation; expressiveness; publicity; and inter-institutional collaboration. It is argued both that these benefits are in fact features of legal accountability, and that they do or can produce valuable ends. Both claims are defended against some common objections, the ultimate conclusion being that the better objections justify judicial restraint but do not refute any of the core claims.

Keywords:   instrumentalist approach, institutional design, legal accountability, judicial restraint

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