This article is about a term used in Canadian law. For polycentric urban planning, see polycentrism.
Polycentricity is a concept in Canadian administrative law. According to the Supreme Court of Canada in Pushpanathan v. Canada, the concept is "well known to academic commentators". The court quotes a definition, a "polycentric issue is one which involves a large number of interlocking and interacting interests and considerations", which they ascribe to the book An Introduction to Administrative Law (3rd ed. 1996), by P. Cane.
According to the court, academic commentators have suggested that polycentricity provides "the best rationale for judicial deference to non-judicial agencies". The court explained that:
While judicial procedure is premised on a bipolar opposition of parties, interests, and factual discovery, some problems require the consideration of numerous interests simultaneously, and the promulgation of solutions which concurrently balance benefits and costs for many different parties. Where an administrative structure more closely resembles this model, courts will exercise restraint.