In this paper, I propose a framework to analyse the principle of the protection of legitimate expectations. It focuses on two main issues: the existence of a legitimate expectation and the protection that such an expectation deserves. On the first issue, I define the expectations, outline the internalist approach to legitimacy that I endorse in this context and explain two elements that make the legitimacy of the expectation vary (i.e. the passage of time and the type of law). On the second issue, I first address the question of competing interests in general and the principle of equality in particular. Paying attention to the principle of equality implies we should look at the relative situation, after the change, of the persons that lose from the change and of the rest of the population. I then approach the balance of interests.
I would like to thank, for their helpful comments on earlier drafts, Thomas Ferretti, Thomas Pölzler, the members of the Hoover Chair and the anonymous reviewers.
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