Natural justice before select committees

Put simply, natural justice is fairness of procedure. The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990) provides for every person to have the right to the observance of the principles of natural justice by a public authority. Select committees are expected to observe these principles and the Standing Orders (rules of the House of Representatives) set out the natural justice procedures that committees must follow.

The principles of natural justice have been applied to select committee procedures by providing opportunities for people to respond to allegations made about them at a committee and for a fair process to be followed when evidence is given.

While most evidence is given willingly to select committees without the need to use the natural justice procedures, there will be occasions when witnesses may be concerned about the fairness of procedures. There will also be people who wish to respond to allegations made about them before a select committee that may seriously damage their reputation. The guide is designed to help people with such concerns to understand the procedures select committees are required to follow and the rights available to those people.

This guide will also help any legal advisers who may be engaged to assist witnesses by providing the relevant statutory and Standing Order references.

The guide is available below: