In the Matter of an application by Carl Hanoman, for prerogative writs of Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition

65 WIR 157
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Country: Guyana
Region: Americas
Year: 1999
Court: High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature
Human Rights: Right of access to information, Right to participation
Tags: Health care professionals

In accordance with s 1(c) of the First Schedule of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1991, the Guyana Medical Association, of which the applicant was the President, was requested by the Minister of Health to submit names of nominees for appointment to the Medical Council under a consultation process. Subsequently, the applicant requested reasons for the Minister’s rejection of two of the named nominees and for the choice of their suggested replacements, but the Minister did not reply. The applicant sought a number of orders alleging, inter alia, that the Minister’s actions were ultra vires and of no legal effect.

 

[Adapted from INTERIGHTS summary, with permission]

The High Court held that modern trends indicated that the consultation process embraced more than just affording an opportunity to express views and receive advice. Although the subsequent decision inevitably involved the exercise of a discretion, inherent in that discretion was an obligation to act fairly and reasonably within the boundaries of the Statute granting the discretionary power. The overall objective of fairness in the decision making process was based on the long-established principles of natural justice and public officials must give reasons for the exercise of their discretion in a particular way. Fairness and reasonable expectation dictated that the Association should be given the reasons for the decision and if necessary be given an opportunity to express their views on the Minister's rejections. The respondent's conduct was unfair and procedurally improper. The decision of the Minister was quashed.

 

[Adapted from INTERIGHTS summary, with permission]

“In  the absence of specific legislation obliging a public functionary to give  reasons for a decision, many cases indicate that the modern trend is towards  openness, fairness and transparency regardless of the right that is infringed:  personal, vested, public or rights acquired under schemes or plans. The overall  objective is fairness based on the long-established principles of natural  justice.”

“If  the Minster was of the view that the nominees did not reflect what he had in  mind, he ought to have laid down criteria for selection initially and so informed  the association.”

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