Build a strong appeal application

Writing an appeal application can be confusing and stressful. It helps a lot to understand the appeals process and what the appeals decision-maker can and cannot do for you. It also helps to know what evidence the appeals decision-maker takes into consideration - so you can put your best case forward.

To help you build a strong case for your appeal application, see how the appeals process works and consider the tips and advice we have compiled in the guidelines below.

Unpacking the grounds for appeal

You must read and understand the grounds for appeal.

In some cases, you may not meet all or any of the grounds of appeal and your application will be unsuccessful.

You will need to write a rationale or argument for each ground of appeal you apply for. The rationale or argument you provide should be direct and form the basis of your appeal application.

  • The procedural fairness ground

    If there is evidence of a failure to provide procedural fairness in hearing and/or making the original decision, you can apply for appeal on this ground.

    There are two factors in this ground of appeal. You must show:

    1. evidence, and
    2. a failure to provide procedural fairness.

    Firstly, you need to be able to provide evidence that the breach of procedural fairness has occurred. Suppose you are in a situation where you cannot provide material evidence. In that case, you will need to provide an extremely detailed rationale and explain why you cannot obtain this evidence or where the breach of procedural fairness occurred.

    Secondly, familiarise yourself with what procedural fairness actually means. Procedural fairness can be afforded to you, even though the decision may not be fair.

  • The new evidence ground

    If there is new evidence of factors outside your control, you can apply for appeal on this ground. You need to show:

    1. you could not have reasonably have been expected to provide at the time the original decision was made, and
    2. this new information would have been a significant factor in the original decision.

    There are three factors you must show that support this ground of appeal. Your appeal must show:

    1. there is new evidence,
    2. this new evidence was not known to you prior to the original decision being made, and
    3. the new evidence would make a significant impact on the original decision.

    The term ‘new’ evidence means documents that the original decision-maker has not considered.

    Your appeal should prove there was no possible way you could have sent this evidence to the original decision-maker at the time of them making their decision.

    You must also demonstrate that the original decision-maker would have made a different decision if this evidence was a part of the first review.

The Structure

You must use the word document template provided to you when applying for an appeal.

The template has detailed instructions on how to use it and follows the required structure of an appeal application.

Before writing an appeal application, the first thing you should do is brainstorm a list of reasons why you believe that you meet the ground for appeal. Use these points as you draft your submission, making sure it is edited and proofed properly to ensure it meets the following standards for quality and accuracy:

  • The appeal itself should be approached like a position paper. There is no limit on how many pages you use, but we suggest keeping your letter to 1 or 2 pages.
  • Your appeal application should be clear and concise. Write short sentences that stick to the facts.
  • While the appearance of a letter is important, the content and tone will determine whether the appeal application really does its job.
  • Ensure you have read all relevant policies and procedures related to your situation and pay particular attention to what the appeals decision-maker needs to know to consider an appeal. That information should be included in your letter.
  • Leaving out essential information may delay a response or even result in your appeal or request being denied.
  • Disagreeing with a decision because you don’t like it is not a good reason to apply for an appeal. There needs to be specific reasons relating to policy or procedure that warrant an appeal.
  • What to do

    Opening statement: The first sentence or two should state the purpose of the letter clearly.

    Be factual: Include as much factual detail as possible and reference your comments to supporting documentation when possible. Avoid dramatising the situation.

    Be specific: If an appeal or request depends on particular facts, make those aspects clear. The decision-maker will want to verify any arguments put forward.

    Documentation: Include any documentation required to support your claims. If documentation is being sent by a third party, detail who the third party is and what they are sending.

    Stick to the point: Don’t clutter your letter with information or requests with no apparent connection to the main message.

    How to talk about feelings: It is tempting to overstate your case when something is important to you. When feelings are a legitimate part of a message, state it as a fact but again avoid being overly dramatic.

    Be brief: It is more work to write a good letter than a long one. Decision-makers appreciate the extra effort that goes into composing a good short letter.

    Be honest: If you have actually done something wrong – accept responsibility! Everyone makes mistakes. If you express your regret and demonstrate that you have learned from the situation, that sends a positive message to the reader.

    Deadlines matter: If you need more time to submit your application, ask for an extension. Do not submit a late application as it may not be accepted.

    Keep copies: Scan everything, your letter and all supporting documentation. This includes all letters sent or received, as well as relevant documents, forms, and receipts. Keep a copy of these records until - and possibly for some time after - a matter is settled.

  • What not to do

    Do not rush: Students do not often take the time to write a proper appeal. A rushed or poorly prepared submission increases the chances your appeal will be denied, even if you have a good case.

    Do not try to manipulate the reader: Threatening, name-calling, cajoling, begging, pleading, flattery and making extravagant promises are manipulative and ineffective methods.

    Do not blame the reader: Some students like saying that ‘I have done this because of you’. Putting the blame on others does not send a good message to the reader.

Submitting evidence

It is your responsibility to send any evidence that you want to be considered as part of the appeal application.

Include all the documentation you think is necessary – even if you have already sent it to other University staff – with your submission.

  • Evidence you may want to submit

    You may want to consider submitting evidence that:

    • supports your argument in your appeal application,
    • demonstrates that you did not do what the original decision-maker said you did,
    • supports that you could have not reasonably obtained it in the original decision-making process, and
    • was not available to you before the original decision-maker made their decision.
  • Evidence you may not want to submit

    You may not want to consider submitting evidence that:

    • has no relation to your appeal application,
    • does not help you prove a point, and
    • was available to you before the original decision-maker made their decision.

Identifying procedural unfairness

Procedural fairness means the state of a process that gives the parties reasonable notice of the matter to be considered, an opportunity to give their side of the matter and ensures that decisions are made without bias on the basis of the facts presented.

  • The Evidence Rule

    If your answers are ‘no’ to these questions, you may want to apply on the ground of procedural fairness.

    1. Did the original decision-maker use enough factual evidence to make the decision?
    2. Were you given all of the evidence that was before the decision-maker?
    3. Does the original decision-maker have the authority to make the decision that they did?
  • The Hearing Rule

    If your answers are ‘no’ to these questions, you may want to apply on the ground of procedural fairness.

    1. Did you have an adequate opportunity to present your argument/case?
    2. Did the original decision-maker take your response or the documents you submitted into consideration?
  • The Bias Rule

    If your answers are ‘yes’ to these questions, you may want to apply on the ground of procedural fairness.

    1. Did the original decision-maker act with bias?
    2. Do you have either a close, personal, financial, or family relationship with the original decision-maker?

Checklist: before you submit your appeal

tick I understand the ground/s of appeal

tick My appeal application states the findings of the original decision-maker

tick My appeal application identifies the ground of appeal

tick My appeal application argues why I meet the ground for appeal

tick I have prepared evidence to submit

tick I am submitting my appeal on time

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