Procedural safeguards in the administrative process


University of British Columbia

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Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




Throughout the common law countries studies and investigations have been carried out to reform the procedure used by administrative tribunals. The procedural rules to which, tribunals in British. Columbia must adhere are found in the common law rules of natural justice and in the tribunals' establishing statutes. This system has been severely criticized as it is inconsistent and unpredictable. There is no consensus amongst the common law jurisdictions as to which solution to the problem of procedural safeguards in the administrative process is most preferable. The competing interests; protection of the public from unfair government actions, and the efficiency of the administration, are the reasons for this lack of consensus. It is the thesis of this essay that procedural reform is needed in British Columbia. Therefore, British Columbia would benefit from a minimum administrative procedure act applicable to all administrative tribunals' adjudicative functions. The method used to establish this thesis was to research the present situation in British Columbia. As a background to this, a description of the common law rules of natural justice and a study of the procedural rules of three provincial tribunals enacted by the Legislature are given. This essay continues with a description of the solutions used in Ontario and in the United States where minimum procedure rules have been enacted, applicable, to most administrative tribunals. After considering these different solutions, along with, the investigations of law reform reports from various common law jurisdictions, it has been concluded that certain fundamental procedural safeguards should be enacted by way of an administrative procedure act. The main argument for this is that such, an act would serve an educational purpose by informing both, administrators and the public of the procedural rules. As the suggested procedural rules are very fundamental, it is also concluded that it is necessary to carry out further investigations into each tribunal. In this way, more detailed procedural rules could be enacted, applicable to a specific tribunal, if deemed, necessary. In summary, the conclusion of this thesis is that a minimum administrative procedure act will fill an educational purpose and, at the same time, might help to achieve a more consistent, predictable administration with regard to procedure. It might also work as a catalyst by promoting further studies into the procedural aspect of the administrative process.

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