How do tribunals make their decisions?
Aside from the process the tribunal follows for hearing disputes, the tribunal has a duty to be fair. This is a very important principle of administrative law. Fairness means:
1. The person has a right to know the case and respond
A person who is affected by an administrative decision has the right to know the case being made against him or her and must be given an opportunity to respond. This means that the people involved in the dispute must state their case in affidavits (sworn statements) delivered to the tribunal, or go to the tribunal in person to present their case.
2. The adjudicator cannot be biased
An unbiased adjudicator means that the person who decides the case will be impartial and will make a decision based only on the arguments and evidence that the parties present at the hearing. It also means that the adjudicator cannot have (or appear to have) any personal connection with the parties or any personal interest in the outcome of the case.
3. The adjudicator who hears the case must make the decision
The adjudicator who reads the parties’ submissions or hears the submissions in person at a tribunal hearing must be the person who decides the case. It also means that governmental policies can only be applied if it makes sense in the circumstances of the case. For example, a Workers’ Compensation Board policy to determine a complainant’s average earnings cannot be applied if it doesn’t make sense to apply the policy in that case.
4. The adjudicator must give reasons for the decision
The adjudicator must give reasons for the decision so the parties can see that the adjudicator considered the submissions made. A decision also helps the parties understand the reason the adjudicator came to that decision.