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All committees that assess a faculty member for tenure and/or promotion must be conducted according to the principles of natural justice.
Acquiring a fundamental understanding of natural justice will provide fail-safe means to gauge the appropriateness or inappropriateness of any proceedings in which you are involved.
The principles of natural justice apply irrespective of any rule(s) a committee creates. They are principles of law that have been applied over the centuries by courts to the conduct of administrative tribunals such as those set up at this university. The applications and interpretations of rules by a committee must be guided by these principles.
It applies any time a tribunal, panel or hearing committee make decisions that seriously affect the rights of others. Promotion and tenure decisions are ones that significantly affect the rights of a faculty member, as do disciplinary or other tribunals/committees.
The simplest description is “fair play in action” (Supreme Court of Canada). A more formal description (from a time before gender neutral language was the norm) might be that here a candidate must:
...know the case which is made against him. He must know what evidence has been given and what statements have been made affecting him: and then he must be given a fair opportunity to correct or contradict them.... Whoever is to adjudicate must not hear evidence or receive representations from one side behind the back of the other....[Lord Denning 1962 quoted in the Supreme Court of Canada].
There are three key principles of fairness or justice that must guide all administrative decisions at the university, including those of hearing committees and tribunals:
Based on these key principles, these are the ‘rules of thumb’ or guidelines (in no particular order.) Faculty members being assessed must:
Any faculty member who has concerns that natural justice may have been or will be violated should contact the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee immediately if they want further assistance with interpreting these principles.
This statement has been prepared by the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee (AF&T) for the information of faculty. It is not a legal opinion. Further, it does not represent any formal position of the university. The university did have a statement on natural justice, but at the present time does not have any that it is prepared to make publicly available.
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