Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Saturday, September 12, 2009

# 62. They hate government departments


Fights with Government Departments




To their credit government departments have the professionalism and training to listen quietly when you throw a tantrum. But what if slamming the phone down and telling your wife is not enough?


Decisions regarding licences, permissions, trade marks, taxes-there are no end of decisions that government departments can make to wind you up.


Here, again government departments outshine private industry and other non-governmental organisations (except maybe Opus Dei) in inventing ways to be castigated.


In the past only “aggrieved parties” could complain but now all sorts of people can get angry and complain.


There is normally an appeal time limit. Don’t miss it, as extensions are unlikely.


There are four ways to appeal:


1. Letter to the Minister.
2. The Ombudsman. He does not have power to force anyone to do anything but he can investigate complaints in an informal Scandinavian sort of way (they have come a long way since the Vikings).
3. Appeal Tribunal. Many appeals can be made to tribunals. Usually informal and cheap.
4. Judicial review application to the court which can quash the decision and make the department’s life a misery.
a. It does not hear the evidence/witnesses again. It decides if the Department had the power to make the decision and if they exercised that power lawfully e.g. bad faith, bias, irrelevant considerations, improper delegation.
b. It takes time and is expensive.
c. Even if you win it may just be sent back to the Minister to think again. In response to this the Minister can simply remake the decision using the correct procedures.


I was once a member of an organisation where an aggrieved person travelled for hours just to throw a brick through our window. Simple, effective and does not need to be in writing but regrettably illegal even against government departments.


Extract from "The Law is an Ass...Make sure it doesn't bite yours!"

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