1.4.4 The three ‘rules’ of natural justice
Three common law rules are generally referred to in relation to natural justice or procedural fairness.
The Hearing Rule
This rule requires that people must be allowed an opportunity to present their case where their interests and rights may be affected by a decision maker.
To ensure that these rights are respected, the decision maker must give people the opportunity to prepare and present evidence, and to respond to arguments presented by the opposing side.
When conducting an investigation in relation to a complaint, the person being complained against must be advised of the allegations in as much detail as possible and must be given the opportunity to reply to the allegations.
The Bias Rule
This second rule states that no one should judge his or her own case. This requires the decision maker to be unbiased when holding a hearing or making the decision.
Additionally, investigators and decision makers must act without bias in all procedures connected with the making of a decision.
A decision maker must be impartial and must make a decision based on a balanced and considered assessment of the information and evidence before them without favouring one party over another.
Even where no actual bias exists, investigators and decision makers should be careful to avoid the appearance of bias. Investigators should ensure that there is no conflict of interest which would make it inappropriate for them to conduct the investigation.
The Evidence Rule
The third rule is that an administrative decision must be based on logical proof or evidence.
Investigators and decision makers should not base their decisions on speculation or suspicion, or on assurances of what might be done at a future date. Rather, an investigator or decision maker should be able to clearly point to the evidence on which the inference or determination is based.
Evidence (arguments, allegations, documents, photos, etc) presented by one party must be disclosed to the other party, who may then subject it to scrutiny.