Rectification of Errors or Omissions in Decisions

Date Published

It is well established that if a judgement or order has been expressed ambiguously, or fails to express the court's intentions correctly because of an accidental error or omission, it may be amended (see Australian Civil Procedure, 3rd edition, B. C. Cairns, The Law Book Company Limited, 1992, pages 233-235).

This power of correction is part of a court's inherent jurisdiction, and administrative agencies such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal have, at times, exerted a similar corrective power (see Re Brown and Acting Commissioner for Superannuation (1980) 3 ALD 185).

If it is clear that the final conclusions of a decision do not reflect the intentions of the Commissioner, as shown in the body of the decision, due to clerical, typographical, spelling or other accidental errors or omissions, then it is possible to amend the decision. This approach is consistent with the “slip” rule used in judicial matters. This will usually be done by issuing a corrected decision including a corrigendum, accompanied by a covering letter to the parties explaining the error or omission. Note that the corrected version will replace the original published decision.

The Commissioner does not have the power to withdraw a decision and make a fresh decision in the absence of a jurisdictional error (see Ex parte Mole Engineering Pty Ltd (1981) 35 ALR 119). Thus, as no new decision has been made when making corrections, the original date of the decision stands. This may be important when considering time limits for actions such as appeals or amendments.

Note: For corrected decisions, the Decision Date field should take the format:

Decision Date: old date (Corrected on new date)

The decision should also include a corrigendum stating the date of correction and listing the parts of the decision that have been corrected. The corrigendum should appear on a new page after the decision abstract, but before the pages of the decision itself. If a table is required, OEP should be notified to allow for appropriate formatting steps before publication.

Note: If a decision is erroneous, but nonetheless expresses the intention of the Commissioner at the time the decision was made, it may not be set aside or varied except under appeal (see 3.8.7 Further Hearings).