Appeal to a court

Before you decide whether to appeal an ACNC decision or ACNC objection decision to a court, please contact us to discuss your case. We may be able to resolve any misunderstandings or disagreements this way. If you still disagree with our decision, you have the right to review the decision you are unhappy with. You can also seek independent legal advice about your options. If you do not have a lawyer, you can contact your local state or territory law association to find out what pro bono or other legal assistance is available in your area.

When can I go to a court?

You can go to court for an appeal or a review if you:

  • disagree with a decision made by the AAT after it reviewed the ACNC objection decision
  • disagree with an ACNC objection decision and have decided not to apply to the AAT, or
  • disagree with another ACNC decision.

Appealing an ACNC objection decision to a court

If you disagree with an ACNC objection decision you can appeal directly to a court, instead of going to the AAT first. Before deciding to go to court it can be a good idea to get legal advice about the strength of your application, the process, and the related costs.

You must lodge an appeal within 60 days of us giving you the objection decision. If there are related decisions, even if the ACNC did not make them, you can ask the court to deal with the decisions together.

How do I appeal to a court?

You can appeal to a court by filling in the relevant court’s application form. There are usually filing and other fees to pay.

The court can limit their review of your case to the reasons you put into your original objection application to the ACNC. If you apply to a court, you will have to prove to the court that the ACNC should have made a different decision. You can ask the court to review more than one decision together, such as an ACNC objection decision and an ATO decision about charity tax concessions. These decisions must be related or it must be more efficient for the court to review them together.

Does the appeal to the court suspend the ACNC’s original decision?

No. The original ACNC decision has effect while your appeal is being dealt with. The objection decision continues until the court makes a different decision.

What can happen on an appeal by the court?

If you are appealing against an ACNC objection decision, the court can make any order, including:

  • varying the ACNC’s decision, or
  • agreeing with the original decision.

If the court does not agree with the ACNC’s decision, we have 60 days to put the court’s decision into effect, unless we decide to appeal it.

You can also appeal the court’s decision to a higher court if you disagree.

Judicial review

You may also ask a court to review other ACNC decisions. This is called judicial review.

What is judicial review?

Judicial review is when a court looks at the way the original decision maker applied the law and the process they followed when they made their decision. The most common way to apply for judicial review of Commonwealth administrative decisions is under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).You cannot ask for judicial review just because you are unhappy with the decision or disagree with the reasons. You can only ask the court to review the decision because of the way we made our decision.

If the court decides that we made a mistake in the process we followed to decide your case, it will generally set aside the decision or direct us to make a new decision and follow the correct process. The court will not make a new decision.

When can I apply for judicial review of a decision by a court?

You can apply for judicial review if:

  • the decision is not an internally reviewable decision under the ACNC Act, and
  • you think that the ACNC made a mistake in the way it applied the law in the decision, and/or
  • you think that the ACNC did not follow the proper legal process in making the decision.

There are time limits on applying for judicial review. Under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth), you must apply for judicial review within 28 days of us giving you our decision.