The laws of natural justice, often referred to as the principles of natural justice, are fundamental principles that form the cornerstone of fair and just decision-making in legal and administrative proceedings. These principles have their roots in ancient legal systems and are recognized as essential components of modern legal systems worldwide.
There are two main principles that constitute the laws of natural justice:
1. Audi alteram partem: This principle translates to "hear the other side." It means that before making any decision that affects an individual's rights, interests, or property, the decision-maker must provide a fair opportunity for all parties involved to present their case and arguments. This includes the right to be heard, to call witnesses, and to present evidence in support of their position. The idea is to ensure that all relevant information is considered before reaching a judgment, fostering a sense of fairness and transparency.
2. Nemo judex in causa sua: This principle translates to "no one should be a judge in their own cause." It emphasizes the importance of impartiality in decision-making. Decision-makers must be neutral and unbiased, avoiding any personal interest or conflict of interest that could influence their judgment. This principle ensures that the decision-maker remains objective and free from any undue influence or prejudice, promoting trust in the legal or administrative process.
The laws of natural justice are not just limited to formal legal proceedings but also extend to administrative actions, disciplinary hearings, and quasi-judicial processes. These principles are not codified in statutes but are considered inherent in the concept of justice and are applied by courts and tribunals as a matter of public policy.
In essence, the laws of natural justice serve to safeguard the rights of individuals and uphold the rule of law by ensuring a fair and just process in all decision-making contexts. They are fundamental in protecting individuals from arbitrary decisions and abuse of power, making them an integral part of any democratic and civilized society.