Impartiality is best defined by its opposite: Being partial means to lack the authority or jurisdiction to make binding decisions. The term is used to indicate the presence of certain circumstances that could undermine the impartiality of your decision, and thus disqualifying your authority.

Impartiality in public administrative decisions is regulated by the Public Administration Act 1967 § 6: "A public official shall be disqualified from preparing the basis for a decision or from making any decision in an administrative case," if the officer directly or indirectly may have personal interests in the outcome of the case.

If a superior official is disqualified due to impartiality, so too are his or hers subordinates.

If you are disqualified to make a decision, you should resign from the case and leave the decision making to others.

The rules have both an objective and a subjective part. In some cases a disqualification is solely based on your relationship with someone who is party to the case (genus or family), regardless of whether you have any interest in the outcome or not (objective part). In other cases, you should resign if it could be reason to suspect that you have a more indirect advantage or disadvantage of a particular outcome (subjective part).

When it comes to research, your relatives, family or others with a close relationship to you should not take part in committees or councils that approve, finance or judge your research projects, as they will be disqualified to make the decisions.

The consequence of a decision made by a disqualified person is that the decision is invalid.

This article has been translated from Norwegian by Carole Hognestad, Akasie språktjenester AS.