Currently, under the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act) and the Environment Protection Regulations 2008 (Regulations), decisions made by the EPA relating to an auditor’s accreditation are appealable to the Administrative and Disciplinary Division of the District Court.
From 22 February 2018, amendments to the section 103V of the EP Act and Regulation 63 of the Regulations will see the review process move to the SACAT. SACAT will approach the review as a rehearing in much the same way as the District Court previously did. However, there are some fundamental changes, including:
- on rehearing the matter, SACAT must reach the correct or preferable decision having regard to, and giving appropriate weight to, the EPA’s decision. Unlike the District Court, SACAT is not bound by the EPA’s decision in the absence of compelling reasons;
- the EPA will have an obligation to use best endeavours to assist SACAT in its review, including to provide SACAT with any documents in the EPA’s possession or control that may be relevant to the review;
- SACAT has an ability to make any orders it considers appropriate. In contrast, the District Court was limited to making ancillary or consequential orders it considered appropriate; and
- being a tribunal and not a court, the rehearing conducted by SACAT will be less formal than a District Court appeal and will likely be more efficient and cost-effective.
These changes will make the process of seeking a review of EPA decisions relating to auditor accreditation easier and more accessible.
If you would like to know more, please contact Kathryn Walker.