Here’s the information we tell people when they call us – you can read it in your own time, and if you have specific questions we haven’t answered, you can post your question on our Facebook page (which allows us to answer you, but also make that answer available to other people with the same question) or use our Contact page to get in touch.
I’ve made the application to the AAT. What happens now?
Now you wait. There are things that need to happen, some of them by the AAT, and some of them by the NDIA.
The AAT will send you an acknowledgement of your application, and some information.
The AAT will also send you a notice of a conference date. (See below to understand what a conference is!)
Meanwhile the NDIA have to go and find all the documents they relied on to make the decision you are appealing. These are called the “T docs” (T is for Tribunal!) They have to provide you and the AAT a copy of these within 28 days of your application.
The conference needs to be after the T docs are due, so it will likely be about six weeks after your application, to make sure you have them.
Before the first conference the NDIA will also send you a Statement of Issues. More about that below.
I have a letter about a hearing. What do I do?
If you’ve not spoken to the AAT at all before, you probably don’t have a notice for a hearing. You probably have a notice about a case conference.
Check the notice you received. Does it say “hearing” or “case conference”?
What’s the difference?
You know all the court cases you see on tv, where there is a judge, and lawyers, and witnesses? That’s a hearing. That’s where there is a person who has the legal authority to decide who is right and who is wrong. Who wins and who loses. A case conference is not that.
A case conference is a meeting (usually by telephone, but possible by video conference like Zoom if necessary) between you, the NDIA and a person from the AAT. The AAT person is there to try to help you and the NDIA work out how to find a solution that works for everyone, so the appeal doesn’t have to go to a hearing, they don’t have the power to make a decision about who is right, or who wins, they are just trying to help you find a solution.
The main difference between a hearing and a conference is this. A hearing means someone wins and someone loses. The decision is published, and when other people go to the AAT, it can be referred to as a previous decision.* In a conference nobody makes the decision, there are no winners or losers. The goal is to find a solution that both the NDIA and you agree is the right decision.
* Decisions of the AAT don’t create “precedent”. That happens in courts. A precedent is when a court makes a decision, and every other court case after it needs to take that decision into account, and consider it as part of the law. But if a decision is made in one AAT appeal, it still happened, and AAT appeals about the same thing afterwards will still have to consider it.