A decision-maker will regularly be required to comply with particular procedural steps when it makes its decisions. The requirements are usually set out expressly in legislation. They may also be set out in a Code, in a Code of Practice, or in guidance. Occasionally, the requirements may also be in the public authority’s own policies. An example of a requirement contained in legislation would be an Act requiring a local authority to undertake consultation with specified persons before making a particular decision, or a requirement to notify a person affected by a decision that he or she has a right to appeal against the decision.
Such express procedural requirements may be set out in primary or subordinate legislation. By way of example, school reorganisation in Wales is regulated by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code published under section 38 of that Act. Section 48 of the Act requires a Local Authority to consult and publish school organisation proposals in accordance with the Code. Between them, the Act and Code impose procedural requirements that must be followed, including requirements about:
- publication of proposals in a particular form
- sending the proposals to the Welsh Ministers
- consideration of objections to proposals
- making a decision on proposals
- publishing the decision
- notifying particular bodies of the decision.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements may leave a decision vulnerable to challenge on the grounds of failure to comply with procedural requirements.