What is the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA)?

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The PAJA is the law passed to “give effect” to the right to just administrative action in the Bill of Rights. This says everyone has the right:

  • To fair, lawful and reasonable administrative action; and
  • To reasons for administrative action that affects them negatively.

What is administrative action?

Any decision the administration takes that affects people’s rights is an administrative action. The administration is made up of:

  • All government departments;
  • The police and army; and
  • Parastatals, like ESKOM, Telkom and the SABC.

Why do I need the PAJA?

The PAJA gives you a chance to tell your side of the story before any decision is taken. Once a decision is taken, it lets you find out why the decision went against you. In this way, the PAJA makes sure you know why the administration has done what it has. It also makes sure that decisions are taken properly. Lastly, it makes sure you can challenge decisions that were not taken properly.

What should I expect when I apply for something?

You can now expect to be:

  • Told what decision is being planned before it is taken;
  • Allowed to tell your side of the story before a decision is made;
  • Told what the decision is and of your right to internal appeal or review;
  • Told that you have the right to request reasons;
  • Given proper written reasons for the decision; and
  • Able to challenge the decision in court.

When can I request reasons?

You can request reasons for any decision that negatively affects your rights. Sometimes, these reasons will be given without you having to request them. If not, you must request them within 90 days of finding out the decision.

What if I am still not satisfied?

Some departments give you an internal appeal. For example, the Department of Home Affairs has an Appeal Board. If someone applies for asylum seeker status and is refused, they can appeal to this Board.

You must use any internal appeal before taking any other action. The department must tell you how to do this and how long you have to make the appeal.

If there is no internal appeal procedure, or if you have used it and are still not satisfied, you can ask a court to review the decision. This must be done:

  • Within 6 months of any internal appeal having been decided.
  • (Where there is no internal appeal) within 6 months of finding out the decision


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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