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Hearings and Decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
Nature of Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) hearings
The AAT is required, under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, to conduct proceedings with as little formality and technicality and with as much expedition as possible. There is no requirement for a person to be represented by a member of the legal profession at an appeal and claimants may represent themselves if they wish. The AAT's hearings are generally open to the public, although the hearing can be closed by the AAT to receive confidential information.
Proximity of Tribunal hearings
The Tribunal generally sits in the capital city nearest to the appellant's home but also sits elsewhere in Australia. Where appropriate, hearings may be conducted using telephone conference facilities.
Options available to the AAT
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, requires the AAT to stand in the shoes of the original decision maker and make a decision taking account of all the evidence that is available up to the date that it hands down its decision. This means that the applicant can bring forward material that was not put to the original decision maker.
When hearing a case, the AAT has the power to:
- uphold a decision,
- vary a decision,
- substitute its own decision for that of the Commission, or
- direct the Commission to reconsider the matter in accordance with any directions or recommendations that it makes. The case is then referred to a primary delegate for decision. The right of review under the VEA is again afforded to the applicant.
Right of review for reconsidered decision
A decision made by the Commission in accordance with section 57 in the VEA is considered to be a decision made at the primary level, and carries a right of review to the AAT, of which the claimant or pensioner must be informed.
AAT decisions only affect individual cases
Decisions of the AAT are not binding on DVA except in the individual case. Delegates must apply the law in the light of the policy laid down by the Repatriation Commission.
Effective dates of payment
Where the application for review has been lodged within the three months time limit, and the AAT grants service pension, the effective date of the grant or variation cannot be earlier than the date that the Commission could have set at the time of its primary determination. The effective date may be later if the application for review is lodged after the expiration of the three months time limit, for example:
Veteran receives decision of VRB on 01/01/02 and lodges his application for review by the AAT on 31/03/02. The earliest date of effect is the date of effect which the Repatriation Commission could have set at the time of its primary decision.
Review of claim arising under s14 of the VEA. Veteran receives decision of VRB on 01/01/02 and lodges an application for review by the AAT on 03/04/02 (later than 3 months after receiving the decision of the VRB). The earliest date of effect is six months prior to the lodgement of the application for review with the AAT
Review of a claim arising under s15 of the VEA or an application for attendant allowance. Veteran receives decision of VRB on 01/01/02 and lodges an application for review by the AAT on 03/04/02 (later than 3 months after receiving the decision of the VRB). The earliest date of effect is the date on which the application for review was lodged with the AAT. The AAT could set a later date of effect if the material supported such a decision.