A Guide to Procedural Fairness under the CPC

Procedural fairness, commonly known as natural justice, is a fundamental aspect of the law that ensures fair and unbiased treatment in the execution of legal proceedings. Under the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), procedural fairness plays a vital role in ensuring that parties are treated impartially, and justice is served. This practice note aims to provide a comprehensive guide to procedural fairness under the CPC for legal practitioners.


  1. Principles of Procedural Fairness
  2. Applicability under CPC
  3. Key Components
  4. Importance of Compliance
  5. Practical Implementation
  6. Consequences of Breach
  7. Concluding Remarks

1. Principles of Procedural Fairness

1.1. The Right to a Fair Hearing (Audi Alteram Partem)

One of the fundamental principles of procedural fairness is that a person has the right to be heard and to present their case fully before any decision affecting their rights or interests is made.

1.2. Bias Free Decision Making (Nemo Judex in Causa Sua)

This principle asserts that decisions must be made impartially and without any bias. Anyone who makes a judicial decision should be neutral and not have a personal interest or involvement in the case.

2. Applicability under CPC

Under the CPC, procedural fairness is applicable in all stages of civil litigation including but not limited to filing of suits, service of process, hearing, judgment and execution.

Section Provisions
Section 20 Suits to be instituted where subject matter situate
Order V Issue and service of summon
Order VI Pleadings generally
Order VIII Written statement and set-off
Order IX Appearance of parties and consequence of non-appearance
Order X Examination of parties by the court
Order XVII Adjournments
Order XVIII Hearing of the suit and examination of witnesses
Order XX Judgment and decree
Order XXI Execution of decrees and orders

3. Key Components

3.1. Notice

Parties should be given sufficient notice of any hearings, and information on the case to allow them to prepare adequately.

3.2. Opportunity to be Heard

Parties should have an opportunity to present their case, evidence and arguments.

3.3. Independent and Impartial Tribunal

A body making a decision should be independent, impartial, and free from bias.

3.4. Reasons for Decision

The decision maker should provide reasons for the decision, especially if it adversely affects a personโ€™s rights or interests.

4. Importance of Compliance

4.1. Legitimacy

Procedural fairness enhances the legitimacy and acceptability of the judicial process.

4.2. Prevention of Miscarriage of Justice

It ensures that justice is not only done, but also seen to be done, by preventing miscarriages of justice.

4.3. Protecting Rights

It protects the legal rights of the individuals involved in civil litigation.

5. Practical Implementation

5.1. Timely Communication

Ensure that all parties are aware of the status of the case and any developments.

5.2. Adequate Representation

Allow parties to be represented by legal practitioners or appear in person.

5.3. Proper Documentation

Maintain and ensure access to proper records of the proceedings.

5.4. Adherence to Timelines

Follow prescribed timelines and schedules for various stages in the litigation process.

6. Consequences of Breach

6.1. Reversal of Decision

Decisions made in breach of procedural fairness may be reversed or set aside.

6.2. Loss of Public Confidence

Breach of procedural fairness may lead to a loss of public confidence in the justice system.

6.3. Legal Consequences

There may be legal consequences including sanctions or penalties for breach of procedural fairness.

7. Concluding Remarks

It is essential for legal practitioners to understand the significance of procedural fairness under the CPC and ensure its strict adherence. This would not only uphold the principles of natural justice but would also contribute towards strengthening the justice system. Practitioners should remain vigilant at all stages of the civil litigation process to ensure that the tenets of procedural fairness are not compromised.

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