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Leave to Appear Guidance Note

  • Leave to Appear
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This Guidance Note sets out some general information about seeking leave to appear at the Commission's public hearings. It should be read together with Practice Guideline 2, which sets out the formal procedures governing applications for leave to appear.

What is "leave to appear"?

  1. "Appearing" at a public hearing (other than as a witness) means actively participating in some or all parts of the hearing in a capacity other than a witness, or having a legal representative participate on your behalf.
  2. For example, someone with leave to appear at a hearing might instruct their legal representative to ask witnesses questions or make submissions to the Commissioners about how they should interpret the law and/or evidence.
  3. A person[1] can only appear at a public hearing if they have a "direct and substantial interest" in the subject matter of the hearing and the Royal Commission has given them permission to appear. This permission is called "leave to appear" and is only granted in limited circumstances.
  4. Being granted leave to appear is different to other forms of engagement with the Royal Commission. For example, parties do not need leave to appear to:
    1. provide the Royal Commission with a general submission (otherwise than at a hearing) on any topic within its Terms of Reference by completing the online submission form on the Royal Commission's website, as explained in Practice Guideline 1;
    2. attend in person in the hearing room where the public hearing is conducted, or follow along with the live feed, as a member of the public;
    3. appear before the Royal Commission to give evidence at a hearing as a witness;[2] or
    4. attend a private session.
  5. The Royal Commission's website provides more detail on how people can share their experience with the Royal Commission. If you need assistance, please email or phone the Commission on 1800 329 095 or +61 2 5122 3105, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm AEDT Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. For a free-of-charge translator or interpreter phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450. Ask to be connected to 02 5122 3105.

When the Royal Commission may grant leave to appear

  1. As the Royal Commission determines its program of public hearings, it will publish the details of those hearings on its website.
  2. There are many people who may be interested in participating in public hearings or have information that may assist the Royal Commission. However, it is not possible for all people to be granted leave to appear.
  3. A person or organisation seeking leave must have a direct and substantial interest in the subject matter of the public hearing if the evidence that the Royal Commission proposes to hear in the public hearing is likely to concern that person or organisation specific, or to directly affect their interests.
  4. For example, the Royal Commission may grant a person or organisation leave to appear at a public hearing in circumstances where:
    1. a person has been summoned to give evidence and the person, or the organisation on whose behalf the person is given evidence, wishes to be legally represented during the hearing;
    2. the person or organisation is the subject of the hearing;
    3. the person or organisation are likely to have adverse allegations made against them (e.g. an allegation of inappropriate conduct) during the course of the hearing; or
    4. the person or organisation has produced documents or other material to the Royal Commission, which the Royal Commission is likely to consider or examine in detail during the hearing.

Applying for leave to appear

  1. If you consider that you have a direct and substantial interest in the subject matter of a particular public hearing, you should submit an application for leave to appear in accordance with Practice Guideline 2 at least 7 days prior to the hearing.
  2. To make an application, you should:
    1. complete the Application Form on the Royal Commission's website;
    2. write a short submission setting out why you have a direct and substantial interest in the subject matter to be considered by the relevant hearing; and
    3. send the form and the statement to the Solicitors Assisting the Royal Commission by email at
  3. The Commissioners will then determine your application in advance of the hearing or part thereof, and the outcome will be communicated to you.

[1] A reference to a 'person' or 'people' includes a body politic or body corporate as well as an individual.
[2] You must be invited by the Royal Commission to appear as a witness at a public hearing. The Royal Commission may grant leave to appear if you are attending as a witness, particularly if you are represented by a lawyer.