Bias Under Administrative Law 

Any form of prejudice towards an issue or a party in the case, whether conscious or unconscious, is called bias. This does not render the mind immune to outside influences of any type.

This article examines the types of bias that can emerge in administrative law and the significance of upholding the principles of natural justice.

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Principles of Natural Justice

Natural justice is a crucial legal idea that assures fair and just decision-making in administrative and judicial procedures. It is often referred to as the notion of procedural fairness.

Decision-makers must act impartially, without prejudice, while considering the rights and interests of all parties concerned.

According to this idea, any individual or entity affected by a decision must have a chance to be heard, present their case, and reply to any criticisms levelled at them.

This idea is crucial for upholding justice, preventing the misuse of authority, and preserving public confidence in the fairness of judicial and administrative processes.

The two primary principles of natural justice are:

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  • Nemo judex in causa sua‘ which means that no one should be allowed to be a judge in their own case, emphasising the rule against bias.
  • Audi alteram partem‘ which means that the other party should be given a fair opportunity to be heard, and no one should be condemned without a chance to present their side of the case.

Additionally, a third principle, the rule against bias, underscores the necessity of impartiality. This principle states that the decision-making authority should avoid making judgments that are influenced by personal prejudices or biases. It demands a fair and unbiased approach to reaching a decision.

Rule Against Bias

The rule against bias, also known as the rule of impartiality, is a fundamental principle of natural justice that ensures decision-makers and adjudicators are free from any personal, financial, or other biases that could influence their judgment. The rule requires those responsible for making administrative or legal decisions to act unbiased and impartially.

In practical terms, the rule against bias means that decision-makers should not have any personal interest, prejudice, or connection to the parties involved in a case.

A reasonable apprehension of discrimination can lead to the decision being considered invalid and may necessitate a review or appeal.

The rule against bias is essential to maintain the integrity and credibility of judicial and administrative processes, as it ensures that decisions are made solely on the merits of the case and not influenced by any external factors that could compromise fairness and justice.

5 Types of Bias

The five biases can be categorised as follows.

1. Personal Bias

When a decision-maker has a personal interest or connection to one of the parties participating in the administrative procedure, it is said to have personal bias. Due to this connection, the decision-maker may be influenced, compromising fairness and impartiality in an administrative case.

2. Pecuniary Bias

Pecuniary bias can also be called financial bias. The term “pecuniary bias” describes a circumstance in which the person making the judgement has a financial stake in how the case will turn out.

This occurs when a decision-maker has a direct or indirect financial stake in the outcome of the case. It may result in a conflict of interest and cast doubt on the impartiality of the decision-maker’s judgement.

For example, having any kind of business relationship with one of the parties involved in the case.

3. Subject Matter Bias

Subject matter bias occurs when the person making the judgement is interested in the case’s subject matter, either directly or indirectly.

As a result, the decision-maker’s associations could influence how the issue is decided.

4. Departmental Bias

Departmental bias is when administrative authorities show unfair favouritism or prejudice towards particular groups or departments. It’s a problem because they might treat some people better than others or make unfair choices.

5. Preconceived Notion Bias

Preconceived notion bias refers to a situation when the decision maker holds any opinions or pre-existing beliefs about any issue or party involved in the case.

It can significantly influence decision-making and lead to unfairness and impartiality in administrative proceedings.


Bias in administrative law can have significant repercussions, undermining the notions of natural justice and jeopardising the objectivity of decision-making procedures.

Maintaining the principles of natural justice, which demand that all parties concerned have the chance to be heard and respond to claims free from any undue influence, depends on recognising bias and dealing with it.

The legal system may preserve public confidence, safeguard individual rights, and guarantee that administrative judgements are made exclusively on the merits of each case by abiding by these principles and avoiding bias.

Gayatri Singh
WritingLaw » Law Notes » 5 Types of Bias Under Administrative Law  Law Study Material
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