Helping you understand Welsh law

When is a decision-maker required to give reasons for its decision?

A decision-maker should always let interested parties know what its decision is. This is essential to ensure legal certainty; a person must always have the opportunity to know what is required of them, particularly where sanctions may be imposed for failing to comply with those requirements.

There may also be a legal requirement to provide reasons for the decision. The duty to give reasons may be set out expressly in legislation. Alternatively, a duty to give reasons may be inferred by the Court (e.g. where the public authority in question has a policy to always give reasons for its decisions, therefore giving interested parties a 'legitimate expectation' that reasons will be given).

The Court is most likely to infer a duty on the public authority to give reasons where it would be unfair for the public authority to not do so, for example if:

  • reasons are required to enable an interested party to appeal the decision;
  • the decision affects a person’s liberty or human rights;
  • the decision is unusual in some way (e.g. contrary to established practice);
  • the decision appears to be contrary to the evidence.

The Court is less likely to infer a duty to give reasons where it would be very difficult for the decision-maker to do so (e.g. where the decision is a pure exercise of judgment, for example where the decision-maker has to apply its judgment to choose which applicant should be awarded grant funding - see R (on the application of the Asha Foundation) v The Millennium Commission [2003] EWCA Civ 88).

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