Administrative Law Spring 2021 Research Assignment (Letter of Advice)

Marks, learning outcomes and assessment criteria

This assessment is worth 40% of the final mark in this unit. The learning outcomes and assessment criteria are contained in the unit Learning Guide. As explained there, the body of the letter is worth 30% and the footnotes are worth 10%.

Due Date: Monday 4 October 9am

Submission and penalties

Assignments must be lodged via Turnitin only. Late assessments will be penalised by 10% per day (i.e., 4 marks per day).

Word Limit

The assignment is to be 3,000 words (plus or minus 300 words), including footnotes.

Form of assignment

The assignment is to be written as a letter of advice to your client, setting out both (1) the relevant and strongest grounds of review and (2) the most advisable avenues of review available. In your footnotes, there must be correct and full citations to the relevant legislation and case law, as per the latest edition of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

You must advise on the availability of, and most appropriate and effective options for, non-judicial or judicial review of the administrative decision.

•You must outline all the merits issues and legal issues that you consider relevant, indicating which you think are the strongest grounds for your client. Such issues must be supported by references in the footnotes to the relevant legislation, guidelines and cases.

•You must discuss the differences, advantages and disadvantages, in your client’s circumstances, of non-judicial review compared to judicial review.

•You must advise whether your client has standing, and which tribunals and courts have jurisdiction.

•Reference must be made to the legislative sections covering the procedures and application fees for these actions, and what procedures your client should expect at each step, and approximately how long the review process could take.

•No reference is needed to the judicial remedies that may be available.  

Fact Scenario

Your client, Max, applied to the Prime Minister on June 30 2021 for access to copies of all documents, emails or correspondence relating to the Prime Minister’s discussions with pharmaceutical companies about securing supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. Max is a freelance journalist. His application was made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act).


On July 30 2021, in a brief letter, the Prime Minister refused Max’s request, on two grounds:


(1) The documents sought were “brought into existence for the dominant purpose of submission for the consideration of Cabinet”; and

(2) Disclosure of the documents “would have a substantial adverse effect on the financial or property interests of the Commonwealth”.


In the letter, the Prime Minister gave no further reasons for his decision. One week later, the Prime Minister told a media conference that he had rejected Max’s application because Max was a “political activist” who was trying to undermine public confidence in the government.


Relevant legislation, guidelines and cases


This assignment requires research to find the relevant legislation, guidelines and cases. In your submission, you must examine, apply or distinguish all applicable cases, including (but not limited to) the following decisions:


Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Secretary, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and Sanderson (Party Joined) [2015] AATA 361


Community and Public Sector Union and Attorney-General’s Department (Freedom of Information) [2019] AICmr 75