Procedural fairness is not a well understood area of law. A search for some online definitions and examples to share with the readers of this article showed that the information available online, even usually reliable sources, gave largely irrelevant examples.
Due process or procedural fairness arises from a 14th Century common law requirement that no man should be put to death, imprisoned, disinherited, or put out of land or tenement without first being brought to answer in due process of law.
So what is it?
Procedural fairness, like most of administrative law, is concerned with the procedures and methods taken to reach the decision not the fairness of the decision itself. This is why so many don't understand administrative law, it rarely evaluates the final decision but is instead focused on whether the steps taken to get to the decision were correct.
A failure of procedural fairness often happens when a body fails to apply their own rules, such as commencing proceedings out of time, or not properly appointing or selecting the decision maker. The question is not whether there was any 'fairness' but rather whether the body even had the ability to make the decision in the first place. Have they taken the correct steps to get there?
What should I do?
If you are unhappy about a decision that has been made about you then you can consult Bruce Coode to find out if you can challenge that decision. Your first consultation is free of charge. If the decision you are concerned about isn't covered by this area of law he will tell you, but the problem is most people don't ask and so they don't know that they have a legal remedy.
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.
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.