This paper revisits the trust conception of the doctrine of legitimate expectations in the UK. Under this conception, legitimate expectations are premised on the public’s trust in the relevant decision-makers. While I do not take issue with the trust conception per se, I argue that the conception, as theorised in the academic literature and applied by courts, is problematic: the relationship between trust and legitimate expectations requires further conceptualisation. Drawing on the social science scholarship on trust, I suggest that the trust conception suffers from three conceptual conflations: between trust and reliance; between trust’s cognitive and behavioural components; and between trust and trustworthiness. And I illustrate these three conflations using UK cases. The conflations, I submit, must be clarified before public trust can be useful as a theory of legitimate expectations.
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