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right first time: A practical guide for public authorities in Scotland to decision-making and the law

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introduction

Elish Angiolini photoGood decision-making is an essential part of good government. It is fundamental to the Rule of Law ideal that official decisions are fair, efficient, accessible and not arbitrary, and that they comply with the law. Right First Time is designed to assist any public decision-maker comply with these high standards.

Countless decisions are made on a daily basis by public authorities in Scotland which impact on members of the public. Whether those decisions relate to the determination of a planning application, an application for the placement of a child in a particular school or the decision to make or refuse a grant, they must all be lawful, fair and reasonable.

Making the best possible decisions first time round will increase public confidence in the quality of decision-making within Scotland's public authorities. A decision which has been properly made will also be better equipped to withstand scrutiny and challenge, whether by internal review or by external bodies such as the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or the courts.

The law surrounding decision-making can seem very complex. Right First Time takes you through the process step by step. However, it is intended to complement rather than act as a substitute for taking legal advice - particularly since the law can change quickly.

Right First Time has been prepared by a team of lawyers within the Scottish Government Legal Directorate and my own Legal Secretariat, and is the first guide of its type aimed at decision-making by public authorities in Scotland.

I am happy to commend Right First Time to all decision-makers in the Scottish public sector, and hope that it will prove to be of great assistance as you work to serve the people of Scotland.

Rt. Hon. Elish Angiolini QC
Lord Advocate