What is natural justice?

Administrative law is the body of law that regulates decision making.  It doesn't necessarily apply to all decisions though.  It certainly applies to government decisions and government tribunals, as such most public school decisions would be caught.  But does administrative law and the concepts of natural justice and a fair hearing apply to all decisions of a private school?

 

 

What decisions are covered?

In short, maybe.  Decisions of a private school may be covered, it is a question of whether the case can be grounded in some sort of contractual terms or breach of trust and even then an administrative law issue doesn't necessarily arise.  The cases on private schools in this area are not straight forward in so far as they don't fall into neat or easy categories.

In Bird v Ford [2014] NSWCA 242 the Court had previously found that the contract between a private school and parents did not create a right to natural justice, and the Court was hearing an application against the solicitor on the basis that he failed to advise the parents properly.  The NSW Court of Appeal stated that the law in Australia on this point was accepted as being uncertain, and other court cases indicated the possible availability of implied contractual term and perhaps judicial review on the basis of natural justice.

Courts have intervened where a decision to expel was made without good faith or dishonestly or were processes required by the rules were not followed (see for example Carter v NSW Netball Association).

 

 

 

Why is it important?

It is important to make sure that you are commencing proceedings that have merit, with a solicitor who understands the amorphous and shifting nature of administrative law.  While we hate to see people not pursue an action because they were unaware of their rights, we would also hate to see people wasting money pursuing a lost cause.

 

 

Bruce Coode

Who should I speak to?

Be careful of lawyers who don't have a track record in this area, administrative law is an odd and broad area of law that can only be understood by keeping up to date with the case law in the area.  It touches all other areas of law a little bit, so all lawyers know a little bit, but Bruce understands the whole area.  He can tell you in the initial half hour consultation whether you should be pursuing an administrative law remedy.

 

Be careful of lawyers who don't have a track record in this area, administrative law is an odd and broad area of law that can only be understood by keeping up to date with the case law in the area.  It touches all other areas of law a little bit, so all lawyers know a little bit, but Bruce understands the whole area.  He can tell you in the initial half hour consultation whether you should be pursuing an administrative law remedy.

 

 

 

Where can I get more information?

If you would like to read some more information about administrative law then click on the link to the right to read some more of our articles.