Speech delivered during a visit to Thailand's Central Administrative Court
This presentation will focus on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the way in which it manages the applications that are made to it. It will cover the procedures used by the Tribunal to move applications towards finalisation as well as the information technology system used by the Tribunal to keep track of those applications. I will briefly refer to the Tribunal's jurisdiction and the parties who are involved in Tribunal proceedings before describing the case management system in some detail. I will then explain how the Tribunal's existing case management database operates and the Tribunal's project to move to a new electronic case management system.
THE TRIBUNAL'S JURISDICTION AND PARTIES TO THE REVIEW
The Tribunal does not have a general power to review decisions made by Australian Government bodies under Commonwealth legislation. The Tribunal can only review a decision if an Act or other legislative instrument provides that a person may apply to the Tribunal for review of that decision.
In general, Parliament confers on the Tribunal jurisdiction to review decisions that will, or are likely to, affect a person's interests. Given the wide variety of activities undertaken by the Australian Government, it is perhaps not surprising that the Tribunal has jurisdiction in relation to many areas of decision-making.
The Tribunal currently has jurisdiction to review decisions made under more than 400 Acts or statutes and other legislative instruments. The majority of applications made to the Tribunal relate to the following kinds of decisions:
The Tribunal also regularly reviews decisions relating to civil aviation, corporations regulation, customs, environment protection, access to documents under freedom of information legislation, immigration and citizenship and professional qualifications.
The Tribunal's jurisdiction is diverse as are the persons who apply to the Tribunal for review of decisions. While most applications are lodged by individuals, applications are also lodged by corporations, public interest organisations and a wide range of other entities. The government body responsible for the decision is a party to the review and is usually referred to as the respondent. Other persons whose interests are affected by the decision may apply to be joined as a party to the review: s 30 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (AAT Act).
Legal representation is allowed under the AAT Act: s 32 of the AAT Act. However, levels of representation vary significantly between the Tribunal's different jurisdictions. For example, in the social security area, only a small proportion of applicants are represented by a lawyer. Government bodies appearing before the Tribunal are represented by external or in-house lawyers or by specially trained non-legal staff.
HOW THE TRIBUNAL MANAGES APPLICATIONS FOR REVIEW
The Tribunal is required to provide a review process that is fair, just, economical, informal and quick: section 2A of the AAT Act. The AAT Act also provides that proceedings are to be conducted with as little formality and technicality, and with as much expedition, as the requirements of the Act and other relevant legislation and a proper consideration of the matters before the Tribunal permit: s 33(1)(b) of the AAT Act.
Given the wide variety of decisions that the Tribunal reviews and the different types of parties involved in applications for review, the Tribunal must have flexible processes which allow each application to be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The Tribunal has developed case management procedures that are designed to achieve this flexibility.
I have included in the materials at Attachment A a flow chart which sets out the way in which most applications for review are dealt with by the Tribunal. Some types of applications are dealt with differently including applications to review security assessments made by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and particular decisions relating to the cancellation of visas under the Migration Act 1958. However, these are the exception rather than the norm. I will concentrate on the procedures used for most applications.
Making an application
Applying for review
An application for review must be made in writing: s 29(1) of the AAT Act. The application must contain a brief statement of reasons for the application. While there is a form that applicants can use, there is no requirement that applicants must use this form.
The Tribunal can accept applications in person, by mail or by fax. The Tribunal does not generally accept applications by e-mail. Nor does it have a facility for applications to be made through the Tribunal's internet website.
Time limit for applying for review
An application must usually be lodged within 28 days after a person is given a copy of the decision: s 29(1)(d) and (2) of the AAT Act. The time limit is longer for some types of applications.
If a person does not lodge the application within the time limit, the person can apply to the Tribunal to extend the time for making the application: s 29(7) of the AAT Act. The Tribunal sends a copy to the respondent and asks the respondent to notify the Tribunal within 14 days as to whether or not they oppose the application to extend time. A letter is sent to inform the applicant of the process.
If the respondent does not oppose the application, the Tribunal usually makes a decision on the papers as to whether or not to grant the extension of time. If the respondent opposes the application, a preliminary hearing is listed to give the parties the opportunity to present any evidence and submissions before the Tribunal makes its decision. A document setting out the Tribunal's decision is sent to both parties with a covering letter.
A fee must be paid only in relation to some applications to the Tribunal. Whether a fee is payable depends on the type of decision to be reviewed and the circumstances of the applicant. For many types of decisions, no application fee is payable: for example, applications for review in relation to social security and veterans' entitlements. Even if a fee is usually payable for a particular type of decision, certain applicants are not required to pay a fee. These include applicants who are under the age of 18. The Tribunal can also decide to waive the payment of the fee if its payment would cause the person financial hardship.
Provision of documents relevant to the review
When the Tribunal is satisfied that it has received a valid application, the Tribunal sends the applicant a letter acknowledging receipt of the application and providing basic information in relation to the review process. The Tribunal also sends a notice to the decision-maker that an application has been lodged.
Within 28 days of receiving the notice, the decision-maker must provide to the Tribunal and send to the applicant:
a statement setting out the findings on material questions of fact, referring to the evidence for the findings and giving the reasons for the decision; and
every document that is in the decision-maker's possession or control that is relevant to the review.
The requirement for a decision-maker to provide all of the relevant documents to the Tribunal and the applicant is a crucial part of the review process. These documents are commonly referred to as the "T documents".
Applying for a stay order and other preliminary applications
Lodging an application for review has no effect on the operation or implementation of the decision that is to be reviewed: s 41(1) of the AAT Act. However, the applicant may apply to the Tribunal for an order staying or otherwise affecting the operation or implementation of the decision: s 41(2) of the AAT Act. If the Tribunal considers it desirable to do so after taking into account the interests of any persons who may be affected by the review, the Tribunal may make an appropriate order.
There are a range of other preliminary applications that may be made in relation to an application for review. These include:
an application to shorten or extend the time for lodging the T documents under s 37 of the AAT Act;
an application for a confidentiality order in relation to a person's identity or in relation to documents that must be provided to the Tribunal under s 35 of the AAT Act;
an application to be joined as a party to the application under s 30 of the AAT Act.
In relation to these preliminary applications, the Tribunal follows the process outlined above in relation to an application for extension of time. The Tribunal provides a copy of the application to the other party or parties with a request to notify the Tribunal within 14 days as to whether or not they oppose the application. If a party opposes the application or the Tribunal otherwise considers it appropriate to do so, a preliminary hearing will be listed.
Outreach program and the legal advice scheme
Where an applicant is not legally represented, the Tribunal contacts the person by telephone to provide information about the Tribunal and its processes. This is known as Outreach and it usually takes place shortly after the T documents have been received by the Tribunal.
The officer conducting Outreach explains what the T documents are, what will happen next and other procedural matters. The Tribunal can arrange for the person to see a video about the Tribunal and its procedures. The Outreach officer also identifies whether the person may need the assistance of an interpreter when dealing with the Tribunal or whether the person has any other needs relating to a physical, psychological or intellectual disability. The person is also referred to other agencies that may be able to help the person.
The Tribunal has also established legal advice schemes with the cooperation of legal aid bodies. A legal aid solicitor attends the Tribunal once each week or each fortnight. During Outreach, the Tribunal invites self-represented parties to make an appointment to see the solicitor. If the person expresses interest, an appointment is made. The Tribunal makes the T documents available to the solicitor for the purposes of the appointment. The legal aid solicitor can provide advice and minor assistance and, in appropriate cases, may invite the person to apply for legal aid for further assistance including representation.
These measures are designed to enhance the accessibility of the Tribunal for people who do not have legal representation.
Conferences, other ADR processes and directions hearings
The Tribunal's case management strategy is to pursue the dual goals of attempting to resolve matters by agreement between the parties where possible while ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to promptly prepare for hearing those matters that do not settle. The Tribunal's goal is to finalise applications within 12 months of lodgement.
The Tribunal has a high rate of success in assisting parties to resolve their matters without proceeding to a formal hearing. In the 2004-05 financial year, 78 per cent of the approximately 7,500 applications finalised by the Tribunal were finalised without the Tribunal making a decision on the merits following a hearing. Consensual resolution of an application has significant benefits for the parties, as well as for the Tribunal. It reduces the costs that the parties and the Tribunal incur in relation to the proceeding and brings the dispute to a conclusion earlier.
For many years, the Tribunal has relied on a General Practice Direction issued by the President to set out the procedures that the Tribunal will usually follow in managing applications for review where the applicant is represented. The Tribunal is currently in the process of developing and issuing guides for each of its major jurisdictions which will replace the General Practice Direction. These guides are designed to provide more particular detail in relation to how applications will be managed in different areas.
In most applications before the Tribunal, the parties attend one or more conferences conducted by a specialist officer known as a Conference Registrar or by a Tribunal member. The same person will generally conduct all conferences for a particular application.
Where both parties are represented, conferences are generally held by telephone. If an applicant is not legally represented, conferences are held in person at the Tribunal's premises unless this would not be convenient for one of the parties because of geographic or other reasons.
Conferences provide an opportunity for the Tribunal and the parties to:
discuss and define the issues in dispute;
identify any further supporting material that parties may wish to obtain including expert medical reports; and
explore whether the matter can be settled.
Conference Convenors may offer frank advice in relation to the prospects for success in an application.
At the first conference, the Conference Convenor usually sets a timetable for the parties to lodge further material. Represented parties are also usually required to lodge and exchange a Statement of Facts and Contentions outlining their case. The Tribunal's general expectation is that all additional material will have been lodged by the second conference together with the Statements of Facts and Contention. These provide the basis for exploring the possibility of settlement.
Conferences also provide the opportunity for the Tribunal to discuss with the parties the future conduct of the application and, in particular, whether another particular form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may assist in resolving the matter. Where the Conference Convenor is satisfied that an application is unlikely to settle, arrangements for preparing the matter for hearing are discussed with the parties. The Conference Convenor will issue directions as necessary to ensure that any further material is lodged in a timely manner.
Other ADR processes
In addition to conferencing, the AAT Act provides for the following specific types of ADR processes: conciliation, mediation, case appraisal and neutral evaluation: s 3(1) of the AAT Act. Conciliation and mediation have been used by the Tribunal for many years. Represented parties in the workers' compensation area have been required to attend a conciliation since 1998. While techniques associated with case appraisal and neutral evaluation may have been employed by the Tribunal on occasion, they are more recent additions to the Tribunal's established case management options.
The Tribunal is currently reviewing its use of ADR. The first stage of the review has involved clarifying the definitions of the different forms of ADR which encompass both advisory, facilitative and hybrid dispute resolution processes. The Tribunal has also developed draft guidelines designed to assist Conference Registrars and Tribunal members to determine when it may be appropriate to refer an application to a particular type of ADR process. The next stage of the review will involve consultation with stakeholders in relation to the definitions and referral guidelines as well as the development of a number of pilot programs to investigate the use of the different forms of ADR in relation to particular case types. It is envisaged that these pilots will assist the Tribunal to refine both the definitions of the ADR process and its referral guidelines.
ADR processes may be conducted by a Tribunal member, a Conference Registrar or another person engaged by the Tribunal: s 34C(5) of the AAT Act. Given the different nature of the processes that are available, the AAT Act does not contain a blanket prohibition on a Tribunal member who has conducted an ADR process from proceeding to hear a matter. However, the parties have the right to object to that member participating in the hearing: s 34F of the AAT Act.
In general, ADR processes are conducted in private. Evidence of anything said or done during an ADR process is not admissible in a hearing without the consent of the parties: s 34E(1) and (2) of the AAT Act. The AAT Act recognises, however, that it may be helpful for the report of a case appraisal or neutral evaluation to be admitted at a hearing. This may occur unless one of the parties objects to the report being admitted: s 34E(3) of the AAT Act.
The Tribunal can hold a directions hearing at any stage of a proceeding: s 33(1A) of the AAT Act. This may be at the request of a party or on the Tribunal's own initiative. In general, directions hearings are held to deal with issues relating to:
the progress of an application including any failure to comply with requirements to lodge documents or other material;
access to documents required to be produced under summons; and
the conduct of the hearing.
Directions hearings must be conducted by a Tribunal member.
Finalising matters during the pre-hearing process
As noted above, the Tribunal's case management strategy is to encourage the parties to settle an application where possible. The parties may lodge terms of agreement as to the outcome in the application at any stage during the review process. Where terms of agreement are lodged, the Tribunal can issue a decision that is consistent with the terms of the agreement provided that the following conditions are met:
The Tribunal may decline to give effect to terms of agreement if there is doubt as to the correctness of the decision requested by the parties.
Of course, it is open to the applicant to withdraw an application at any time. The Tribunal also has a range of powers to dismiss an application including where the applicant fails to appear at a case event, fails to proceed with the application or fails to comply with a direction given by the Tribunal: s 42A of the AAT Act. The Tribunal can also remit a matter to the decision-maker for further consideration if it considers that this is the appropriate course: s 42D of the AAT Act. The decision-maker must either affirm, vary or set aside the decision within the period specified by the Tribunal.
Where an application is not resolved, the Tribunal is required to conduct a hearing. The hearing is usually conducted in person but parties and witnesses may participate by telephone at the Tribunal's discretion: s 35A of the AAT Act. The Tribunal can dispense with the hearing and determine the application on the papers if all parties agree and the Tribunal is satisfied that the issues can be adequately determined in the absence of the parties: s 34J of the AAT Act.
Constituting the Tribunal for hearing
For the purposes of a hearing, the Tribunal may be constituted by one, two or three members: s 21(1) of the AAT Act. In rare cases, the legislation conferring jurisdiction on the Tribunal determines that the Tribunal must be constituted in a particular way. In practice, most hearings are conducted by single-member Tribunals.
How the Tribunal will be constituted for a particular application relates primarily to the legal and factual issues to be determined. The AAT Act sets out a list of factors that must be taken into account including the degree to which it would be desirable for the Tribunal to be constituted by members with knowledge, expertise or experience in relation to the matter to be determined: s 23B. Tribunal members have a range of professional expertise - including accounting, engineering, medicine, law and science - and the Tribunal is constituted bearing this expertise in mind.
Once a decision has been made as to which member or members will constitute the Tribunal, that member or the presiding member of a multi-member tribunal is generally responsible for managing the application.
Conducting the hearing
The hearing gives the parties an opportunity to present their case to the Tribunal and gives the Tribunal the opportunity to obtain sufficient material to enable it to make the correct or preferable decision. The Tribunal is empowered to take evidence under oath or affirmation and can summon a person to give evidence or produce documents to the Tribunal: s 40 of the AAT Act. The Tribunal is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inform itself on any matter as it thinks appropriate, subject to the requirements of procedural fairness: s 33(1)(c) of the AAT Act. Material that is relevant to the decision under review may be admitted in evidence.
In general, each party is given an opportunity to present evidence to the Tribunal and to make submissions after the evidence has been presented. However, the way in which a particular hearing proceeds will vary according to the nature of the decision under review and the parties involved in the hearing. The Tribunal will adapt its procedures to ensure that the hearing proceeds in the most effective manner possible. For example, evidence from particular witnesses may be given by telephone rather than in person. Where both parties are calling experts to give evidence, the Tribunal may decide to hear the evidence from those experts together. Where the hearing involves a party who is not legally represented, more informal and flexible procedures are used to assist the person to present their case to the Tribunal.
The Tribunal's hearings are generally conducted in public: s 35 of the AAT Act. However, the Tribunal has a broad power in appropriate circumstances to make orders protecting the identity of parties and witnesses as well as restricting or prohibiting the disclosure of oral evidence or documents given to the Tribunal.
The Tribunal must either affirm, vary or set aside the decision under review: s 43(1) of the AAT Act. Where the Tribunal sets aside a decision, it may either substitute a new decision or send the matter back to the decision-maker for reconsideration in accordance with the Tribunal's directions.
The Tribunal may give its decision and reasons orally at the end of a hearing or it may issue its decision and reasons in writing at a later time. Most decisions are issued in writing after the hearing. When giving its reasons for the decision, the Tribunal must include:
A person who is not satisfied with the Tribunal's decision may appeal against it to the Federal Court of Australia on a question of law: s 44 of the AAT Act.
HOW THE TRIBUNAL TRACKS APPLICATIONS
The Tribunal's Existing Case Management Database
Overview of the system
The Tribunal uses an electronic database to track its applications for review. The system is known as AATCAMS. The Tribunal has been using AATCAMS for nearly 20 years. It runs on a mainframe computer and is accessed by users via their PC screen. AATCAMS operates as a stand-alone system and is not integrated with other office systems used by the Tribunal including Microsoft Word.
AATCAMS allows Tribunal staff to store key details of every application received by the Tribunal. Particular information can be recorded for each stage of the process from initial application, to pre-hearing and hearing procedures through to finalisation and appeal. The capacity of the system in this regard is described in more detail below. Essentially, AATCAMS is an index reference to each case and allows the Tribunal to keep track of the stage that each case has reached. The system is updated by Tribunal staff and is only rarely used by Tribunal members.
The system is supplementary to the hard-copy case file. The case file consists of a folder that holds all paper documents related to the case. In general, AATCAMS does not have the capacity to record what documents have been received or sent by the Tribunal. Nor can it scan and store documents. As such, the case file remains the primary source of all information pertaining to the application.
Using AATCAMS to track applications
Once an application has been received, Tribunal staff create a new record for the application in AATCAMS. The file number for the application is generated when the new record is created. Staff enter basic information relating to the application including: the date on which it was lodged; the type of decision to be reviewed; the applicant's name and contact details; if relevant, details relating to the applicant's legal representative; and the name of the respondent and its address. Other information relevant to the parties or the application can be included such as whether an interpreter is required as well as whether the hearing is to be held in public or in private.
On receipt of a valid application, AATCAMS is used to generate the letter to the applicant acknowledging receipt of the application and the notice to the decision-maker that the application has been received. Other than listing notices, these are the only case-related documents produced by AATCAMS.
In relation to preliminary applications such as applications for an extension of time or a stay order, Tribunal staff are able to record that an application has been lodged and the date on which it was lodged. When the application has been determined, staff record whether the application was granted or refused. Correspondence relating to the application and the document recording the Tribunal's decision is generated using template documents in Microsoft Word separate from AATCAMS.
AATCAMS is used to list all case events including conferences, other ADR processes and hearings. The system prevents Tribunal members and staff being listed for two different matters at the same time and ensures that conference and hearing rooms are not double-booked. The system also prevents Senior Members and Members being listed for cases in Divisions to which they have not been appointed or when they are unavailable.
AATCAMS is used to generate the listing notice to send to the parties for a particular case event. Following a case event, Tribunal staff enter basic information in relation to whether or not the case event was held and its duration. AATCAMS is also used to generate daily lists and listing schedules for Tribunal members and staff.
Throughout the review process, parties are required to provide documents to the Tribunal or complete other activities within a particular timeframe. As noted above, the respondent must provide T documents within 28 days after receiving notice of an application. During the conference process, the Tribunal will usually set a timetable for documents and other material to be lodged with the Tribunal. Tribunal staff can enter reminders in AATCAMS to check on a particular date whether specified events have occurred. Paper-based reports are generated from AATCAMS to identify the reminders for a particular day. Automatic review dates are included in the system to ensure that current applications that have no future listing or particular reminder are reviewed on a regular basis.
AATCAMS is used to record how each application is finalised and the date on which it was finalised. If the Tribunal issues a written decision, the decision number is recorded but it does not link directly to the text of the decision. Orders, decisions and associated correspondence are generated in Microsoft Word separately from AATCAMS. AATCAMS is also used to record information relating to appeals from Tribunal decisions.
A wide range of reports are available in AATCAMS which enable the Tribunal to produce information relating to applications lodged, finalised and those that remain current. Reports can be produced on case events undertaken by the Tribunal as well as the timeframes within which particular events are undertaken and other relevant matters.
A New Case Management Database: Challenges And Opportunities
AATCAMS has provided very stable service for a substantial period of time. However, it has not kept pace with advances in registry and general office automation practice. It has a number of limitations which restrict the productivity of Tribunal members and staff.
The current system runs on a proprietary IBM operating system called Z/OS. It cannot run on the AAT's standard operating system (Microsoft Windows) in its current form and hence there is great complexity in integrating the data with any other system.
AATCAMS cannot be integrated with the Tribunal's office automation system, Microsoft Office. Generation of correspondence, decisions and orders is a more time-consuming task because such simple requirements as entering the name and address of the recipient cannot be automated with a data transfer from AATCAMS. Instead, the user must type the details from AATCAMS into the letter.
The system has little in-built intelligence by a lack of workflow technology. This has a number of impacts. The system for entering reminders and checking compliance is labour intensive. The system does not generate automatic alerts where there is non-compliance or allow for the production of reports relating to non-compliance. Further, AATCAMS is limited in its ability to assist users to enter relevant information and to ensure data integrity. The system relies to a significant degree on users to ensure that data is recorded and recorded correctly.
AATCAMS does not have the ability to be a repository for electronic documents and hence can never provide a full backup to the case file folder.
The current system does not provide the ability to link from a case enquiry directly to a database search of related decisions.
AATCAMS has limitations in relation to its reporting capacity and, in particular, the ability to produce ad hoc reports. While the system has a range of standard reports and some user-selectable reports, any new standard reports or other ad hoc queries must be developed by a technical programmer. Further, AATCAMS does not produce reports in a satisfactory format. The reporting needs of the Tribunal are only achieved by generating reports from AATCAMS and manually entering data into other formats for presentation to Tribunal management.
There are some difficulties in maintaining the current system. AATCAMS is programmed in a way that requires a person with technical expertise to make the simplest of changes. For example, if a government agency is to be represented by a legal firm that is not currently in the AATCAMS database, the details cannot be entered by Registry staff. This must be done by a programmer.
The Tribunal identified that it would obtain significant benefits from a new case management system that would:
introduce workflow efficiencies through greater office automation within its registries;
bring about compliance with and will keep pace with latest software and hardware technology standards in order to build links to new functionality in the future;
provide the capacity to interact with other e-Government initiatives, allow electronic lodgement of applications and external enquiries of case file information.
As such, the Tribunal made a decision in 2004 to replace AATCAMS. The Tribunal advertised a tender in December 2004 which listed the functional requirements in extensive detail. The scope of the new case management system is set out in Attachment B of the materials.
After an exhaustive process, a new system has been chosen and is currently being customised to meet the requirements of the Tribunal. It will be based on a system that currently runs in 15 courts and tribunals around Australia and so is well proven. Included in the materials at Attachment C are some examples of screens from AATCAMS, the proposed new system and systems used in other courts.
The major benefits that will be derived from the implementation of the new system are as follows.
The AAT will have resolved the problems of the existing system. Of primary note it will have a system built on leading edge hardware and software technology that will be supported for the long-term future. It will enable more efficient office operations, enable electronic integration with other Government agencies and external organisations.
The system will be integrated with Microsoft Office for automated generation of letters so that duplicate data entry will be eliminated.
The system will have a link to the Tribunal's decisions database for easy linking of cases to other related cases.
Online scheduling of conferences and hearings can be done and even automated if requested by the user so that the system will work out the next possible conference/hearing date taking into account Tribunal member and Conference Registrar availability.
Automated facilities management of conference and hearing rooms.
Better file and event tracking to enable more efficient management of processing each case to finalisation. There will be a set of 'alerts' that remind Tribunal staff of tasks that need to be performed each day.
The system can be self-managed to a far greater extent by super users so there is less reliance on technical programming staff for generation of reports and changes to field settings.
A vast array of online reports will be available plus a report-writer that will enable some users to design new reports more easily than the current system.
Members will greatly benefit from the new system with a new remote access system recently installed that will allow them to access the details of their cases from their home or other office.
The system is due to be implemented in September this year.
I hope this presentation has given you an insight into the way in which the Administrative Appeals Tribunal deals with its caseload. Its case management approach is closely related to its role as an administrative decision-maker with an overarching responsibility to reach the correct or preferable decision. The Tribunal is an active participant in the review process ensuring that each application is managed appropriately and proceeds in a timely manner. The Tribunal's ability to manage its caseload effectively is certainly enhanced by an effective case management database. The Tribunal is therefore looking forward to the implementation of its new case management system and the improvements that this will bring.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal: Dispute Resolution Flow Chart
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Scope of Functionality in the New Case Management System for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Lodgement & Processing - All events associated with lodgement of new applications for review and other activities, and processing of these, to be recorded and managed; in the future, electronic filing may be implemented by the AAT and the new system must be capable of allowing for e-filing
Party and representative information - Contact and other information relating to parties and their representatives must be recorded
Letters, Notices and Other Templates - Ability to generate from the system, utilising data already entered into the system
Self-represented parties - "Outreach" procedures and other events for self-represented parties must be able to be tracked separately
Confidentiality - Must be able to handle various requirements for confidentiality including recording confidential information right down to field level
Event Tracking - Tracking of all events related to cases
Compliance Tracking - Compliance tracking for overdue events
Reminders - Reminders are to be available on system on a default or ad hoc basis
Listing Matters for Conferences and other ADR processes - All events associated with conferences and other ADR processes must be recorded and managed within the system
Tracking Conferences and other ADR processes - types, attendances, reports, results, vacations;
Directions Hearings and Interlocutory Matters - All events associated with directions hearings and interlocutory matters be recorded and managed within the system
Tracking Directions Hearings and Interlocutory Matters
Listing Matters for Hearings - All events associated with listings and hearings must be recorded and managed within the system
During Hearings - recordings, transcriptions, exhibits and MFI's
After Hearings - recording of results and other processing
Members and certain staff - Details about Members and staff undertaking case events, their availability, and their calendar must be recorded and managed within the system
Members' Support - All tasks undertaken by the members support team should be able to be undertaken within the new system
Appeals - Matters that are appealed to the Federal Court, the Federal Magistrates Court and the High Court need to be tracked
Other functions undertaken by Tribunal members - Information relating to other functions undertaken need to be tracked
Searching - Capacity to search for matters across the database:
Security - Provide a range of security levels to ensure appropriate access to system information and prevent unauthorised access
Case Administration - To control administration and user levels
Auditing - Audit trails for users and events
Reports & Statistics - Standard and ad hoc reports will be required to be generated using technologically modern reporting tools
Library Tools - Ability to link to other repositories such as a decisions database
Storage prior to archiving - Information about storage of files prior to archiving should be recorded
Archiving - Recording events surrounding archival (e.g. dates for archiving)
Destruction - Recording destruction events
Legacy Data - Legacy data to be retrieved easily
Links to other systems - Share information with other courts and tribunals e.g. the Federal Court of Australia
System Sharing - Such as a Transcripts repository. Digitally recorded transcripts are being introduced and will be accessible from the system via the Case File Number)
Future requirements - such as electronic lodgement of applications and internet based enquiries.
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Examples of Screens from AATCAMS, the new Case Management System and Systems used by other Courts
The first picture on this page shows a typical computer screen of AATCAMS as seen by AAT users. The second picture is a prototype of a screen performing a similar function in the new system. The difference in clarity is improved by the move from a 1980s-style mainframe computer screen to the Windows based software of the new system.
The following pages show prototype screens of the new system planned for the Tribunal. These screens will be accessible from any PC connected to the AAT's national network, including those connecting remotely from their homes via their Internet Service Provider.
The screens provide efficient display of current cases (and tasks within those cases) assigned to the Tribunal member. It also provides a diary displaying all appointments (Conferences and other ADR processes/Hearings). It also enables key documents to be available for review. If the member would like to view the full details of any case, he/she can have access to the detailed transaction screens of the system.
Lastly, an example screen is provided of the contact details of the parties to the cases being heard.
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