Last June 30th, after completing prior reviews for constitutionality, the President sanctioned Law 1755 of 2015, by which the Fundamental Right to Petition is regulated, and Chapters I, II and III in Title II of the Code of Administrative Procedure and Administrative Litigation (Law 1437 of 2011) are replaced.
These are the most relevant aspects of the Law:
1. General Rules
– Any person may submit respectful petitions to the authorities for reasons of general or particular interest. The authorities should respond promptly and substantively to any petitions submitted.
– Any petition submitted to the authorities involves the exercise of the Fundamental Right to Petition enshrined in Article 24 of the Constitution, without the need to invoke it.
– In exercising of the Right of Petition, the following may be requested:
a) The recognition of a right.
b) The intervention of an entity or official.
c) The resolution of a legal situation.
d) The provision of a service.
e) Soliciting information.
f) Consulting, examining and requesting copies of documents.
g) Filing inquiries, complaints, claims and grievances.
h) Filing appeals.
– In general, the term for responding to the petition is 15 working days from the day following submission.
– Requests for documents and information must be resolved within 10 working days of receipt. If not be answered in the period specified, it will be understood that the petition has been accepted, and copies of the documents must be delivered within 3 days.
– Requests by which a query is made to an authority in relation to subject matters under its charge should be resolved within 30 working days of receipt.
– When the authority cannot resolve the request within the period prescribed by law, it must report this fact to the interested party, stating the reasons for the delay and a reasonable period in which it will respond, which in no case shall be more than twice the term originally envisaged by the Law.
– Requests may be made orally and a record of the same must be kept, or in writing by any means suitable for communication or data transfer. Appeals shall be filed in accordance with the provisions of Law 1437 of 2011. When the authorities demand that the petition be in writing, they shall make available to interested parties, at no cost, standardized forms or documents to facilitate processing.
– When the petition is presented without the documents required by the Law, the authority shall inform the applicant which documents are missing. If the applicant insists that the petition be received, a record of the missing requirements or documents will be kept.
– No authority may deny the receipt and filing of applications presented in a respectful manner.
– Any petition should:
a) Identify the authority to which it is addressed.
b) Have the full name of the petitioner, representative or agent; identity document and notification address. In the case of persons who should to be listed in the Commercial Register, they shall indicate the email address.
c) State the subject of the request.
d) State the reasons supporting the request.
e) Have a list of documents or attachments.
f) Be signed.
– In no case shall a petition be refused on the grounds of inadequate or incomplete support. The authority is obliged to examine and fully resolve the petition.
– When the authority finds that a petition is incomplete and thus it cannot respond substantively to the same, it shall, within 10 days of the filing date, request that the petitioner complete it within a maximum term of 1 month. If said term expires without the petitioner having met the requirement, the authority shall declare abandonment and closure of the file, by reasoned administrative act, which shall be notified personally. Only an appeal for reconsideration may be filed against this decision. The respective petition may be filed again with the completed legal requirements. The petitioner may request an extension not exceeding the initial term of one month, to meet the requirement so that his or her petition is not closed.
– The term originally determined to resolve the request shall be reactivated from the day after the date on which the party files the required documents or reports.
– Interested parties may withdraw their petitions at any time, without prejudice to resubmitting the respective petition with the full legal requirements. Authorities may continue acting on the petition on their own initiative if they consider it necessary for reasons of public interest; in such a case they shall issue a reasoned decision.
– Regarding repetitive requests and petitions already resolved, the authority may refer to previous responses, except in cases of inalienable rights, or requests that may have been denied for not fulfilling requirements.
– Petitions shall receive priority when requesting the recognition of a fundamental right, prevention of an irreparable harm, or for reasons of health or safety, or where the life and integrity of the petitioner are in danger. Additionally, requests from journalists in the exercise of their duties shall receive priority.
2. Special Rules
– Only the information and documents expressly subject to confidentiality under the Constitution or the law shall be confidential, for example employment history, medical history, or information protected by commercial or industrial secrecy, among others. Only the owner of confidential information may request disclosure of the same.
– Any decision to reject a petition for information or documents of a confidential nature shall accurately indicate the legal provisions that impede the delivery of the relevant information or documents, and shall be notified to the petitioner. There will be no appeal against this decision, except a writ of review by the petitioner.
– A request for review must be brought before the same official who rejected the petition within 10 working days from the date on which it was rejected. The Administrative Court and administrative law judge shall have a term of 10 business days to resolve the appeal.
3. Petitions to Private Entities
– Petitions to private entities may be submitted in cases where they provide public services or perform public functions, in order to ensure the fundamental rights of the petitioners, or when determined by the legislative power.
– The right of petition may also be exercised before individuals who have a position of authority over the petitioner or where the petitioner is in a state of subordination and helplessness.
– The right to petition shall also be available in a situation of subordinance or helplessness that may arise between a user and a service provider, before private entities that develop public activities such as Family Compensation Funds, Institutions in the Comprehensive Social Security System, entities that make up the financial and trading systems, and those providing public services and residential public services.