What is a conference?

A conference is an informal, private meeting arranged by the AAT to talk about your case. It is used in most applications, and many cases are resolved at this stage.

It will be conducted by an AAT Conference Registrar or Member, and attended by:

  • you or your representative
  • a representative of the agency or the Minister who made the FOI decision
  • any other party to the review. 

If you want to, you can bring a support person such as a friend or family member.

We will arrange for an interpreter to attend if you need one.

You can look at the General Practice Direction for more information about a conference. You can also watch our video guide

Look at Confidentiality in ADR processes for information about confidentiality in a conference. 


When and where will the conference be held?

A conference will usually be held between 6 and 10 weeks after we receive the application. It might be held in person at an AAT registry or by telephone.

We will write to you with the date, time and location of the conference.

Usually, conferences last about 30 to 45 minutes, but they can last up to an hour or longer.


What happens if I cannot attend the conference?

You should tell us as soon as possible and we might be able to change the date.

If you do not attend the conference and you do not have a good reason, we might dismiss the application.


How can I prepare for the conference?

Representation

You do not need a lawyer when you come to the AAT. However if you want legal advice or representation you should arrange this before the conference.

Statement of Issues

If you have a representative, your representative must prepare a Statement of Issues that lists the issues you think are in dispute in the application. The statement must be sent to us and given to the agency or Minister and any other party at least 7 days before the first conference. The agency or Minister will also prepare a Statement of Issues and send it to you.

Documents and evidence

You should read through all the documents you have been given, including the T documents. 

You, the agency or Minister, and any other party must think about what other evidence might be relevant to the case and, where possible:

  • send it to us and each other before the first conference, or 
  • make arrangements to obtain that evidence.

What happens at the conference?

The Conference Registrar or Member will help the parties to:

  • talk about why the decision was made and define the issues in dispute
  • consider any new evidence, and identify any further evidence that will be gathered
  • explore whether an agreed outcome can be reached
  • talk about what happens next.

The Conference Registrar might ask or direct you and any other party to give us more information.

We do not make a final decision at a conference.


What happens if there is an agreed outcome?

If you, the Agency or Minister and any other party come to an agreement about the decision, the terms of the agreement must be put in writing, signed by all the parties and sent to us. Look at Coming to an agreement for more information about what happens then.

If you are the applicant, you might decide you want to withdraw the application after the conference. Look at Can I withdraw an application? for information about how to do this.


What happens if there is no agreed outcome?

If you do not reach an agreed outcome at the conference we might:

The Conference Registrar might ask or direct you, the agency or Minister and any other party to give us more information. You must give us any information we ask for by the date we tell you.

We do not make a final decision at a conference.

Second conferences

If we hold a second conference we will:

  • talk about the progress of the application and any new issues
  • consider any new evidence
  • talk about the strengths and weaknesses of each party's case and try to help you reach an agreed outcome or narrow the issues in dispute
  • if an agreed outcome cannot be reached, talk about whether another type of ADR process should be held or about listing the application for a hearing.