What is the MRT?
The Migration Review Tribunal (“MRT”) and the Refugee Review Tribunal (“RRT”) are tribunals which conduct merit based reviews of visa and visa related decisions made by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (“DIBP”).
A “merit review” is an administrative reconsideration of a case and of a decision. The decision is made within the same legislative framework as that applying to DIBP and the Tribunal may exercise all the powers and discretions conferred on the original decision maker (DIBP).
The MRT reviews a wide number of decisions in relation to visas, other than protection visas, whilst the RRT reviews decisions in relation to protection visas only.
Both these tribunals are usually constituted by a single member only who has the following powers after conducting the review:
1. They may affirm (that is uphold the validity of) the primary decision made by DIBP;
2. They may vary the decision made by DIBP; or
3. They may set aside the original decision and substitute a new decision; or
4. They may remit (in other words return) a matter to DIBP for reconsideration with specific directions (usually as to certain factual findings).
Legislation setting up the MRT and RRT dictates that in reviewing a decision to refuse or cancel a visa, the tribunals must conduct merits review that “independent, fair, just, economical, informal and quick”.
Reviews are not conducted in an adversarial manner. DIBP is not even represented at a review hearing. Persons who seek a review will have the opportunity to give evidence and present arguments to the Tribunal relating to the issues arising in the particular case. Evidence from other persons may also be taken, in a relatively informal manner. Hearings may be conducted in person, via video, conference or by telephone.
Jon Flannery the principal of Flannery Law, has been a lawyer since 1983 and has extensive experience in assisting many persons before the MRT, in providing advice and support to review applicants and where invited, in commenting and assisting the MRT in relation to specific matters.