Administrative decisions

Administrative decisions

Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities and operations of government authorities to protect the interest of individuals and businesses in their interactions with government bodies.

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Administrative law

It operates as an accountability mechanism for government decision-makers and is based on the fundamental legal principle that no single government department or agent should be able to make a decision without the decision being reviewable.

More information about can be found in our publication “A guide to administrative decisions”.

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Types of administrative disputes we can help you with 

Individuals and businesses rely on government decision making to be legally sound and fair.

If a decision is unfair or unlawful, the consequences for you or your business can be both costly and significant.

A wide variety of administrative decisions are commonly disputed. Such decisions may relate to, for example:

  • licences — granting, refusing or revoking;
  • land — for example, development approvals clearing; or
  • taxation — for example, assessments.

These are just some of a wide range of decisions that are disputed.

If you believe a government decision-maker or authority has unfairly or unlawfully dealt with you, or you need advice on a complex administrative legal matter, talk to our team to discuss your matter and see how we can help.

Types of Estate and Wills Disputes We Can Help With
Types of Estate and Wills Disputes We Can Help With
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How we can help

Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers can help you with all aspects of administrative law, at any stage of the process. We have experience fighting government decisions and our aim is to achieve a decision that is favourable to you. This may include providing advice, negotiating, drafting applications and appearing in a tribunal or court on your behalf.

We may be able to help by, for example:

  • requesting a written statement of reasons for a decision; or
  • challenging a decision.

There are strict time frames within which to appeal a decision, so contact us immediately to protect your rights.

Challenging a decision

There are several different avenues that may be available to dispute an administrative decision. These include a merits review, a judicial review, or an ombudsman investigation.

Merits review

A merits review involves a person or body other than the original decision-maker reconsidering the facts and merits, as well as laws and policies, to determine whether the decision was appropriate in the circumstances.

This review may be internal (undertaken by the decision-making department) or external (by an independent body).

The result will usually be that:

  • the original decision is confirmed;
  • the original decision is varied;
  • the original decision is set aside and returned to the decision-maker to reconsider; or
  • the original decision is set aside and replaced with a new decision.


This service can investigate a decision but does not have the power to change it. They can also make recommendations to government departments and agencies to improve decision-making practices.  Commonly, an ombudsman will contact the relevant decision-making authority and may be able to get them to agree to:

  • a reversal of the decision;
  • an acknowledgement of a mistake and an apology;
  • a better explanation of a decision; and/or
  • waiving unfair fees.

Judicial review

A judicial review is concerned with ensuring the decision was properly made within the legal limits of the decision-maker’s power. An application for judicial review may be made on the grounds of:

  • a breach of natural justice in relation to the decision;
  • procedures required by law were not observed;
  • the decision-maker didn’t have jurisdiction to make the decision;
  • the decision wasn’t authorised by the Act under which it was made;
  • the decision was an improper exercise of power conferred by the Act under which it was made;
  • the decision involved an error of law;
  • the decision was induced or affected by fraud;
  • there was no evidence or other material to support the decision; and/or
  • the decision was otherwise contrary to law.

If the decision-maker is found to have acted unlawfully in making the decision, the decision may be quashed (overturned), and the decision-maker may be ordered to reconsider the decision.

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Your team

Your administrative review team

Melany Dowse


Rebekka Hallberg

Mitchell Caldwell

Litigation solicitor

Mitchell Caldwell

Special CounSEL

Melany Dowse

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Why us

Why choose Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers

Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers has experience in administrative reviews. We are here to help with your dispute, and we won’t back down from a fight. We can help you anywhere in Australia from our base in Brisbane. Contact one of our experienced solicitors today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to engage a lawyer for an administrative review?

Engaging a lawyer is not compulsory when dealing with administrative law matters but proper legal advice is vital to ensure that you are protecting your rights, as well as maximising your chances of achieving the best possible outcome.

At Gibbs Wright our lawyers can offer advice on all options when it comes to administrative decisions to ensure an effective resolution. Call us for no-obligation, confidential consultation.

What can an administrative lawyer do to help?

If a decision has been made and you wish to dispute it, a lawyer could assist with, for example:

  • obtaining a written record of the decision (if one hasn’t been provided yet);
  • ensuring an application for a review can be made within the applicable time limits;
  • establishing possible grounds on which an application may be made;
  • advising on the likelihood of a favourable outcome; and/or
  • deciding whether an internal or external review is the more appropriate.

Will I need to go to court?

The review may need to be heard in a tribunal such as the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or a court, depending on the type of review sought.

Such proceedings can be costly, time-consuming and stressful, so our lawyers at Gibbs Wright will always attempt to negotiate a resolution before recommending your matter be litigated in a tribunal or court.

What is the Gibbs Wright process?

At Gibbs Wright, we work closely with you to determine the best plan for your particular circumstances, taking into account your finances and expectations.

We will walk you through each step of the journey, which begins with a free initial discussion to assess the strength of your case and your legal options.

We will request copies of key documents such as the original decision that was made and relevant correspondence to assess this. If we determine that we can help you, we will provide an estimate of fees, depending on the expected cost and complexity of the matter.

Where can we help you?

We are well versed in administrative law, and we have an office conveniently located in Brisbane, but we can assist Australia-wide. So, if you’re looking for an administrative lawyer, call us today to let us handle your matter.

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