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The Province of Buenos Aires Supreme Court Held that Requests for Examining Administrative Case Files Suspend Periods to Raise Objections

By Sebastián Alvarez

So was held in the case entitled “Müller, Gustavo G. c/ Provincia de Buenos Aires y Otro s/ Pretensión Anulatoria”, decided in December 2014.

This decision is important because it closes a loophole in administrative procedure in the Province of Buenos Aires, since Decree Law No. 7647/70 does not expressly provide that requests for examining the case file suspend the periods to raise objections.

This decision upholds the rights of the Province of Buenos Aires citizens, who, from now on, have a tool (i.e. requesting the administrative agency to authorize them to examine the case file) to extend the limited periods that they have to raise objections to administrative acts under existing regulations.

In substance, the Supreme Court ruled that:

“Requests for examining administrative case files must suspend limitations periods because, although Decree Law No. 7647/1970 does not expressly provide that the request automatically suspends the period to raise objections, in the absence of an express provision, administrative agencies must anyway suspend periods in the event of any such request. This is because, when the interested party requests the agency to authorize him or her to examine the case file, he or she presumably needs to know documentation or information about the case of which he or she is not aware. Therefore, if such authorization is granted after the period to raise objections has expired and the request has not suspended the period, the interested party, as a result of the administrative agency’s acts, will have to either raise an objection without having enough information on the case or insist on his or her requests, thus running the risk of not answering. This would be detrimental to his or her right of defense, would infringe the good faith principle that administrative agencies must embrace, and would yield no benefits for the public at large.”

 “The fact that no statute expressly provides that requests for examination of case files suspend periods to raise objections does not warrant assuming that they actually do not, since the requests for examination and the granting of the authorization entail –or enable us to infer– a halt in the proceedings, which is concomitant with the examination of the case file by the interested party.”