The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Dr Nicholas Dobson provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
This Practice Note states the law as understood in England.
Local authorities and other public bodies have a general duty to act fairly. This applies both to procedure and substance, and flows from the two cardinal rules of natural justice, namely that:
noone is to be a judge in their own cause (nemo judex in causa sua), and
matters in issue are to be determined after hearing from both or all the parties involved (audi alteram partem)
The modern duty to act fairly is a flexible, context-sensitive doctrine requiring those consulting about or taking decisions on behalf of the public to do so (and be seen to do so) in a manner that is demonstrably fair in all the circumstances and untainted by any issue or perception of personal or other extraneous interest.
Public authority decisions that are affected by actual or perceived bias (prejudice towards a particular outcome) or predetermination (where decision makers have decided and closed their minds to the issue to be determined before the decision is formally made) are therefore inconsistent with the duty to act fairly.
The modern law of bias (and apparent bias, ie conduct that conveys an appearance of bias) was settled by Lord Hope in Porter v Magill where he indicated that the ‘question is whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having
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