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Discretion, in the context of legal decision-making, is the freedom to make a decision within a range of options that may or may not be subject to defined limits.

The limits of a discretionary power are usually set by the legislation or other rule conferring the power to exercise it. Where no such limit has been prescribed, the discretion may be characterised as an “absolute discretion”.

A decision maker exercising a discretion may still be required to give reasons justifying their decision, and such reasons may be subject to the scrutiny of judicial review, in the case of a public official, or of an appeal to a higher court, in the case of a judge.

The giving of reasons helps to demonstrate that a discretion has not been exercised in a random or arbitrary way.




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