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20.3 An outline of the AAT and Federal Court of Australia process
1.The employee, claimant or the Commonwealth applies to the AAT for review of a specific reconsideration decision (a reviewable decision). Applications should be made within 60 days of the date on which the reconsideration decision was received. However, as mentioned, there is provision for the AAT to extend the time allowed in which to apply for review by the AAT.
2.The AAT notifies the MRCC that an application for review has been lodged, to which decision the application relates and the matter(s) to which the AAT application relates.
3.The MRCC has a period of 28 days in which to provide the AAT with a statement in accordance with Section 37 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975. The statement has to set out a history of the case and the reasons why the reviewable decision was made.
4.Since the AAT does not encourage matters to proceed to a full hearing, there is a desire to try to resolve matters between the parties to the AAT application (usually the employee or claimant and the MRCC) without the necessity for a hearing.
5.For this reason, there will usually be one or more conciliation conferences before a matter is set down for a formal hearing. Conciliation conferences are usually conducted by conference telephone with the parties to the conference being the employee, claimant or his/her legal or other representative such as an ex-service organisation member, the legal representatives of the Department who are briefed by National Office Appeals Section staff and, finally, a member or Senior Member of the AAT.
6.If it is not possible to resolve a matter without a formal hearing by the AAT, a hearing date will be scheduled and the matter will be heard at the appointed time. The parties to proceedings are as in 5. above.
7.When the hearing is finalised, the AAT reserves judgement and, after a period of usually weeks, hands down a decision regarding the matters that have been considered.
8.The parties to the AAT's decision are bound by that decision unless an appeal against the AAT's decision is made to the Federal Court of Australia.
9.An appeal to the Federal Court can only be made on a point of law; that is, on an interpretation of the relevant legislation. In other words, there is no provision for the Federal Court to review an AAT decision on the basis of the facts of a case.