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Immigration Lawyers Melbourne

Full steam ahead with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

full steam ahead with the administrative appeals tribunal

September 2020

COVID 19 Changes to Tribunal Appeal

Despite the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, its full steam ahead for review applications that are currently before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (‘the Tribunal”).

Although, the exact details remain unclear, there is little doubt that the Tribunal would not have been completely immune from the initial disruptions that were caused by the pandemic. However, as the new normal drags on, the Tribunal appears to have adjusted and adapted to these unprecedented times. As such, it is now clear that the Tribunal is (at the very least) largely continuing to carry out its statutory merits review function (albeit remotely).

The Tribunal has released the COVID-19 Special Measures Practice Direction – Migration and Refugee Division, which modified the operations and procedures of the Tribunal where appropriate and necessary, to enable the Tribunal to operate during the pandemic. This practice direction may be accessed by clicking the following link:



Hearings are mostly undertaken through Microsoft Teams, which allows for multiple participants at any given time. The mechanics of it are simple. The Tribunal provides the review applicant with a hyper-link in its invitation to attend a hearing letter and the review applicant (or any other participant in the hearing) simply clicks on the hyper-link at the relevant time and date of his or her hearing. As long as the participant’s device has webcam and a microphone, hearings simply commence with the Tribunal officer initially admitting the participant to a (virtual) ‘waiting area’ and then into the hearing itself, where the respective member is present or subsequently joins.

If a review applicant does not have access to the internet or their internet speed compromises the quality of the remote session, the Tribunal may conduct an over-the-phone hearing. However, such over-the-phone hearings are not well suited for all review applications. In particular, where the credibility of a participant in the hearing is in question, an over-the-phone hearing may be far from ideal. We are aware of instances where the Tribunal have accommodated a request for the postponement of an over-the-phone hearing on the basis that such a hearing would not be appropriate in the circumstances.

If and when society goes back to anything that slightly resembles normalcy as we knew it prior to the pandemic, there will again likely be changes to way the Tribunal operates. It is of course entirely possible that ‘remote’ hearings will continue to be the new norm post-pandemic, and face-to-face hearings may become the ‘exception’. Regardless of what the future holds in this respect, one thing is certain – the Tribunal is presently undertaking its statutory review function.

If you require assistance and/or representation with your review application that is before the Tribunal, feel free to make an appointment to see one of Melbourne’s finest immigration lawyers at Erskine Rodan & Associates. You may do so by contacting our firm on (03) 9329 8744 or sending an email to

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