10.7 Revoking, amending and correcting errors in decisions


  1. Generally a power to make a decision can be exercised more than once (i.e. as circumstances change or decisions are required) [1]. In some circumstances, a decision-maker also has the power to:

    • revoke, suspend, amend or remake the substance of the decision [2]

    • correct any errors or omissions in the decision [3]

  2. A decision-maker does not always have these powers. It is normally appropriate for a decision-maker to seek legal advice before changing a decision.

  3. Revoking, suspending or amending decisions

    • Whether a decision can be revoked or amended after it has been made depends on the nature of the decision. This requires balancing the principles of finality and flexibility [4]
      i) For some types of decisions, fairness requires that the council’s decision is final and cannot be revoked or amended. This is usually because individuals need to be able to rely on the decision’s finality or it would be unfair on affected individuals to restart the decision-making process once it has been completed.

      ii) For other types of decisions, it is more important the council has flexibility to revoke or amend its decisions as circumstances change or new information comes to light.

    • The general principle is that a decision that determines a specific individual’s or group’s legal rights (e.g. a resource consent decision) cannot be revoked once it has been communicated to the individual or group concerned as final. At that stage, the decision-maker is functus officio or finished with the decision [5]. Prior to that point (e.g. if it has been communicated as a draft decision or signed-off but not communicated), the decision has not been finalised in law and may be amended.  Most regulatory decisions fall into this category.

    • The types of decisions that can generally be revoked, suspended or amended are: 

      i) decisions appointing someone to a role, office or committee [6]
      ii) decisions delegating powers or functions to an individual or committee
      iii) decisions creating regulations, rules, policies or other instruments [7].

  4. Correcting errors

    • Generally, the decision-maker may correct errors or omissions in the decision once it has been made [8]. Corrections should be made promptly after the decision has been issued and should be communicated to affected people.

    • The power to correct errors does not allow the decision-maker to change the decision because he/she has changed his/her mind or because new information has come to light [9], even when it appears the decision was based on incorrect information. 

    • The power to correct errors may generally be used to correct drafting errors, e.g. when the wrong person is named in a decision or the a document is misdated, provided that it is clear from the context what was actually intended. Some administrative errors may also be corrected, e.g. when the wrong person has signed the document or the wrong document is referred to.

    • Care needs to be taken if the correction affects the legal rights of an individual, especially where the error or omission is not obvious from reading the document. In these cases, legal advice should be sought.



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