Administrative law is an area of law dealing with challenging decisions made by government authorities.
The types of decisions that can be challenged include, but are not limited to:
- Refusing to issue a firearms licence
- Challenging a decision to cancel a visa
- Child protection orders
- Freedom of Information Requests
There are multiple avenues of review for adverse decisions you do not agree with. They include:
With this type of review, it is informal and generally free. A letter or notification of the decision from the government agency will usually include steps to request an internal review of the decision.
This remedy is available in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, when the decision maker has made an error of law, or where the decision maker has failed to take into consideration relevant material when they made the decision you disagree with. Appeals from decisions of NCAT can only be appealed on an error of law, not on a finding of fact you disagree with.
Applications for judicial review must generally be made within 3 months of the administrative decision being served on you.
If you disagree with an original decision, or the decision of an internal appeal, the next avenue of appeal is through the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘NCAT’). Decisions appealed to NCAT are time limited to 28 days post your notification of an adverse decision. Extensions to file out of time may be granted in some cases, but do not expect it as of right.
NCAT is one step below a court. Many of its procedures and functions are designed to replicate the environment of a court, including the fact that lawyers and/or judges are often appointed to decide on matters before it. However, it differs in how it applies the rules of evidence, given its focus on speedy and final resolutions of issues.
NCAT is the only avenue available for an appeal on the merits of the decision. This means the tribunal can consider fresh evidence and decide on the facts presented before it as if it were the original decision maker. In this way, NCAT differs from a Court of Law.