Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Capricious Definition:

A judicial decision which is not based on any apparent reason.

A term of judicial review.

In particular, the term is found in the Canadian Federal Courts Act, §18.1(4)(d), which allows the Federal Court to grant relief if a decision of a federal board, commission or other tribunal:

"... based its decision or order on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard for the material before it."

In Matondo, Justice Harington of the federal Court of Canada wrote:

"To be capricious is to be so irregular as to appear to be ungoverned by law."

Justice Barnes of the Court of Appeals of Mississippi wrote, in Public Employees:

"A capricious decision is done without reason, in a whimsical manner, implying either a lack of understanding of or disregard for the surrounding facts and settled controlling principles."

In Gloucester, Justice Montgomery adopted these words to distinguish capricious from arbitrary:

"To act arbitrarily is to act without any reasonable cause.

"To act capriciously is to act without any apparent reason."

So, too, did Justice Bryan in Alabama Department of Youth Services:

"A decision is not arbitrary where there is a reasonable justification for the decision or where the determination is founded upon adequate principles or fixed standards.

"A decision is capricious if it is so unreasonable as to shock the sense of justice and indicate lack of fair and careful consideration."


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