In Australian common law, natural justice and procedural fairness are fundamental principles that ensure fairness and impartiality in administrative decision-making processes.
These principles are derived from the common law tradition and are considered essential to protect the rights and interests of individuals involved in administrative proceedings.
Natural justice encompasses two main principles: the right to be heard (audi alteram partem) and the rule against bias.
The right to be heard requires decision-makers to provide individuals with an opportunity to present their case and respond to any adverse allegations or evidence.
This includes the right to present evidence, call witnesses, and make submissions.
The rule against bias prohibits decision-makers from having any personal interest or bias that could influence their decision-making process.
Procedural fairness, on the other hand, refers to the overall fairness of the decision-making process.
It includes various elements such as the right to a fair hearing, the right to an unbiased decision-maker, the right to know the case against oneself, the right to present evidence and arguments, and the right to reasons for the decision.
The principles of natural justice and procedural fairness are considered to be implied into the Australian Constitution and are also protected by legislation and common law.
Administrative decision-makers, including government agencies and tribunals, are required to adhere to these principles when making decisions that affect individuals' rights, interests, or legitimate expectations.
However, it is important to note that the requirements of natural justice and procedural fairness are not absolute and can be subject to limitations in certain circumstances.
For example, in cases of urgent or emergency decisions, the requirements may be relaxed to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the administrative process.
Additionally, the specific requirements of natural justice and procedural fairness can vary depending on the context and nature of the administrative decision-making process.
Overall, natural justice and procedural fairness play a crucial role in ensuring that administrative decisions are made in a fair and unbiased manner, promoting transparency, accountability, and the protection of individual rights in the Australian legal system.