Principles of procedural fairness

Decision-makers have a legal obligation to make decisions in a procedurally fair and transparent manner.

To ensure this duty is met, parties to an administrative process are given certain procedural fairness protections based on the nature of the decision being made and its impact on the parties. At a minimum, you generally have the following procedural fairness protections:

  • Unbiased decision-maker: parties have a right to a decision-maker that acts in a neutral and unbiased manner, free from influence that could lead a reasonable person to doubt their impartiality.
  • Notice: parties must be given enough information about the matter being considered and the decision being made to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process. 
  • The right to be heard: parties must have a reasonable opportunity to present their points of view, respond to facts presented by others, and have their arguments considered by the decision-maker.

Processes with high potential impacts may require increased fairness protections. They include:

  • Timeliness: Delays in the process cannot be so lengthy that they hinder your ability to make arguments or present evidence.
  • Reasons: parties are to be given an explanation for the decision that was reached that is coherent, logical, and that accounts for relevant facts, context, and applicable laws, regulations, and policy.

You may also be owed additional procedural fairness protections if they are provided for in law, regulation, or policy – or if these protections were implied in representations, promises, or the past practices of the decision-maker.

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