Step by step guide to applying to NCAT for the review of a decision about accessing government information.
Step 1: Decide if you want to apply to the agency to internally review the decision and/or apply to the Information Commissioner to review the decisionStep 2: Check that NCAT can review the decision Step 3:Consider whether you want a lawyer or agent to represent youStep 4: Apply to NCAT to have the decision reviewedStep 5:
Lodge the application form by the deadline and pay the feeStep 6: Receive a letter from NCATStep 7: Case conferenceStep 8: Prepare for hearingStep 9: Take part in the hearingStep 10: Receive NCAT's decisionStep 11: Consider appealing the decision if you are not satisfied
After the agency has made the first decision, you have the option of applying to the agency for an internal review and/or applying to the
Information Commissioner for a review of the decision.
You do not have to do either of those things before applying to NCAT for a review of the decision.
The government agency which made the decision will tell you if your decision can be reviewed by NCAT.
NCAT has power to review a decisions including a decision:
you are unsure whether NCAT can review a decision about access to government information, you may need to check the
Government Information (Public Access Act) 2009.
You can present your own case at NCAT or have a lawyer or non-lawyer agent represent you. You will usually need to be present to give your instructions to your lawyer or agent. Your lawyer or agent needs to fill out a
Notice of Representation and submit it to the registry in person or by post. If a non-lawyer agent is representing you, you also need to sign the Notice before it is submitted. In both cases, you have to send a copy of the Notice to the government department which made the original decision.
Your agent needs to ask for permission from the Tribunal Member the next time the case is listed. You should be present with the agent in case the Tribunal does not allow the agent to appear for you. A lawyer does not need to ask for permission from the member.
To apply to NCAT, you need to fill out an
Application for review . Please post or bring your application to NCAT registry. You cannot fax the application or lodge it via the internet.
You will need to include the following information on your application for review form:
You should apply to NCAT
within 40 working days after receiving the decision.
If you are applying after this
time frame, you will need to ask for an extension. You must include a good reason why your application is late. NCAT will then decide whether or not to accept your late application.
A fee applies for most applications to NCAT. Check the
Fees and charges page to see which fee applies to you.
You will receive a letter from NCAT called a Notice of Listing and will be given a date to attend NCAT for a 'case conference'.
A case conference is a preliminary session held at NCAT. A Tribunal Member will talk to
you and a representative from the agency about identifying the issues and exploring ways in which the dispute may be resolved.
Information Commissioner will also be advised about your application and may attend the case conference.
The agency will be asked to complete a review sheet, to give to you and the Member at the case conference. The review sheet contains detailed information about the basis for the agency’s decision.
If the agency has not provided the following information before the case conference, the Member will direct the agency to provide it:
In addition the agency will give to the Tribunal the documents under review on a confidential basis:
(a) documents considered to be subject to a conclusive overriding public interest against disclosure to be sent to the Tribunal in a sealed envelope marked ‘conclusive presumption documents’
(b) documents considered to be subject to a non-conclusive overriding public interest against disclosure to be sent to the Tribunal in a sealed envelope marked ‘non-disclosure documents’.
At the case conference, the Member will explore four options for resolving the dispute. These options are:
After the case conference, the matter will be listed for mediation if suitable. Applications that need further procedural directions will be listed for a directions hearing.
If you want to summons a person to produce documents or give evidence at the hearing, you should ask the Member during the case conference to approve the summons. Learn more about
The Tribunal Member will tell you and the other party when you should file written material which supports your case. The material may include statements and evidence, submissions and references to cases or legislation which you will rely on. Read more about
how to prepare an affidavit or statement.
NCAT's hearings are less formal than court hearings. In most cases, the application will be heard by a single judicial member.
In administrative review hearings, the respondent (government agency) usually gives their evidence first. The applicant then presents their evidence.
Afterwards, the Tribunal member will decide whether the government agency made the correct decision. In most cases the member will consider the case and make their decision at a later date. You should receive the decision within 3 months. Complex matters may take longer.
You will receive a letter telling you of the decision that NCAT has made. You will be notified by phone before the reasons are published. You will receive a copy of the written decision, as well as information about your appeal rights. The decision will also be available on the
Caselaw website .
NCAT can make various decisions including:
You may have the right of appeal to the Appeal Panel of NCAT. For more information, view
Appeals against decisions made by NCAT Divisions. In some instances there is also a right of appeal to the
Supreme Court. If you are not sure of your appeal rights, you should
seek legal advice.