Administrative Law and the Rules of Natural Justice
All NWB hearings and decisions are guided by and in accordance with the administrative law principles of natural justice. These principles apply to all Canadian administrative boards and tribunals regardless of any rules, policies or practices established by these individual boards or tribunals.
When do the principles of natural justice apply to the NWB?
The principles of natural justice apply any time the NWB makes a decision that seriously affects the rights of others, including project proponents, interested parties, and members of the public.
What are the principles of natural justice?
There are three key principles of fairness that must guide the decision making of all administrative board and tribunals, including the NWB.
1. People have a right to be heard. Whenever a persons interests might be adversely affected by a decision of the NWB they must have a fair opportunity to present their case.
2. NWB decisions must be made in a manner that is free of bias.
3. NWB decisions must be based on evidence and never speculation or suspicion. The decision must be communicated in a way that reveals the evidence that was used to make the decision.
Applying the principles of natural justice
Based on these principles any project proponent, interested party, or member of the public who may be seriously affected by NWB decision making must:
- Be provided with all relevant information concerning the subject matter of the decision.
- Have sufficient notice of any process being carried out that may affect their interests. Reasonable attempts should be made to accommodate all relevant schedules.
- Have reason to believe that NWB decisions are free from bias. (The test for bias is whether there is a perception of bias by a person who may be affected by an NWB decision, as opposed to the question of whether the NWB or its members were biased in fact. The perception of bias must be reasonable.)
- Have the right to challenge the NWB for bias.
- Have reasonable faith that the NWB has sufficient expertise to understand the issue before them.
- Be allowed to bring evidence or present witnesses to support their position on a point at issue.
- Have access to all evidence presented by other interested parties.
- In a hearing, be able to access translation services as required in order to properly understand the evidence and to be understood.
- Receive a written decision with reasons.