Government’s administrative decisions

To safeguard against administrative decisions going wrong, the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act of 2000 (PAJA) gives individuals and legal entities the right to fair, lawful and reasonable administrative action. Furthermore, it gives the important right to obtain reasons for administrative actions.

Administrative action?

Applications for an ID or passport or permit, for example, involve administrative action.

Government departments, the police, and parastatals such as ESKOM all take administrative decisions. PAJA applies when a decision made by an arm of government has an effect on someone’s rights.

What does PAJA do?

PAJA requires that a fair procedure is followed when administrative decisions are taken, and gives the important right to obtain reasons for decisions. Persons affected by decisions that go against them, must also be informed of any internal appeals available to them within the government department or body concerned. As a last resort the person affected can approach a court to review the decision.

The following are grounds for review:

  1. There was no good reason (rational basis) for the decision.
  2. The decision-maker was not authorised by legislation to act or take the decision.
  3. The person who took the decision or action applied the law incorrectly.
  4. The person who took the action did not apply his/her mind to the issue.

What can you do?

If a decision goes against you and you believe there are grounds for getting it set aside, you can request that the particular department provide reasons for the decision. The request should be submitted in writing and within 90 days of the decision or action. If you don’t agree with the reasons, you can request an internal appeal or review. This step must be taken before you can approach a court for review. Government departments will usually have their own internal review or appeal process, which they should inform you about. If you’re still not happy, you can consider an application to court for review. Going to court is expensive, so obtain legal advice on all the available options.

Reference:

Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act 3 of 2000) Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Accessed: http://www.justice.gov.za/paja. 09/05/2016.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)