“Late” AAT applications: yet another piece to DFQ17’s jigsaw

Federal Court. In DFQ17 and BMY18, FCAFC held that the notification letters under s 66 in those cases were invalid, as they did not "clearly convey" the deadlines for the respective merits review applications. Must a notification be "piecemeal, entirely obscure and essentially incomprehensible" in order to be invalid? Here, a delegate cancelled the Appellant's visa and notified him as follows under the heading "Review rights": "An application for merits review of this decision must be given to the AAT within [7] working days after you are taken to have received this letter... As this letter was sent to you by email, you are taken to have received it at the end of the day it was transmitted". Did the above notice clearly convey the statutory deadline?

The Federal Court (FCA) summarised the notification in question in this decision as follows:

3    The appellant was notified by email of the delegate’s decision on the same day that it was made. Attached to the email was a letter advising him of the decision, and a copy of the reasons for the decision. Immediately after the part of the letter advising him of the decision was the following:

Review Rights

You are entitled to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for merits review of this decision. An application for merits review of this decision must be given to the AAT within seven (7) working days after you are taken to have received this letter.

Please note this review period is prescribed in law and an application for merits review may not be accepted after that date.

As this letter was sent to you by email, you are taken to have received it at the end of the day it was transmitted.

The questions to the FCA were as follows:

Question 1: Must a notification be "piecemeal, entirely obscure and essentially incomprehensible" in order to be invalid?

Question 2: Did the notice in the present matter clearly convey the statutory deadline for a merits review application?

The FCA answered those questions as follows:

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