Kōrero whakataki

This Guide is a user-friendly guide for government officials making decisions or advising others to make decisions that affect members of the public.

As the complexity of the delivery of the government’s programme increases, so too does the law relating to the decisions of government or other public decision-makers.  This resource is designed to guide decision-makers and their advisors through that complexity in a practical way.  While this guide is informed by academic resources, it is not intended to be a comprehensive textbook on administrative law.  Instead, the questions at the heart of this Guide are drawn directly from our experience of the best practical questions that decision-makers and their advisors can ask themselves to reduce the risk of decisions being overturned.  Where possible, these questions are illustrated by real case examples.

This guidance is also informed by the fact that government is not only subject to the scrutiny of the Courts but also to a range of other public supervision.  Those other bodies are detailed in Annex 3, and the questions that we have set out in this guide will also help public decision-makers to satisfy those supervisory bodies that a decision has been well made.

This Guide is not intended to replace legal advice.  If you have questions about any decision you are making or advising on, please seek advice from your in-house legal team.

In terms of its content, the last (second) edition of this Guide was published in March 2005.  This revised edition provides a much-needed update on the law.  With our move online, we intend to keep this resource as up to date as possible, but care must still be taken to ensure the law has not changed since the date of update.

Finally, we acknowledge the considerable debt we owe to the authors of the United Kingdom Government’s The Judge Over Your Shoulder guide; and the Scottish Government’s Right First Time guide, both of which inspired this Guide and its revision.