What is an independent review?
If you are not happy with a decision made by the Community Panel, we may be able to review that decision.
This is called an independent review.
Independent reviews are conducted by an external Independent Reviewer appointed by Ad Standards who has legal expertise and an in-depth understanding of the advertising codes.
The Independent Reviewer will check if the decision was properly made by looking at the Community Panel’s decision-making process. They do not conduct a merits review of the case or substitute a new decision.
Who can request a review?
You can usually ask for an independent review if you are directly affected by the decision made by the Community Panel. If you were not the original complainant or the advertiser, you cannot request an independent review.
If you are an advertiser:
- You can only apply for a review if your ad was found to be in breach of the codes, and you are not satisfied with how the decision was made.
- You must also demonstrate that you have fully complied with the original decision by confirming in writing that the ad has been withdrawn or amended.
If you are a complainant:
- You can only apply for a review if your complaint was dismissed by the Community Panel.
Review requests must be submitted within 10 business days after we inform you of the Community Panel’s decision. We can’t do an independent review if you ask us after this time has passed.
We also do not accept requests for review if legal action is being taken.
Grounds for review
A request for review will only be accepted by the Independent Reviewer if it is about one or more of the following:
- There is new or additional relevant evidence that was not considered by the Community Panel and that could have significantly affected the outcome of the decision, and which could not reasonably have been provided to the Community Panel before making its decision.
- There was a ‘substantial flaw’ in the Community Panel’s decision, either because there was a clear misinterpretation of evidence and/or the rules of the Codes, or appropriate weight was not given to the information that was available.
- There was a ‘substantial flaw’ in the Community Panel’s process used to make the decision.
Making the request
You can make a request for independent review using the independent review form.
To help us handle your request, please include:
- why you think the decision should be reviewed
- which grounds of review you think apply to your request
- any new evidence that was not considered by the Community Panel that you think could have significantly affected the outcome of the decision, and reasons why the evidence was not provided earlier
- payment of the fee.
Remember, you need to make your review request within 10 business days after we inform you of the Community Panel’s decision.
The fee for requesting an independent review is:
- $110 (inc GST) for complainants
- $1,100 (inc GST) for advertisers who pay the advertising self-regulation levy
- $2,200 (inc GST) for advertisers who do not pay the levy
Full payment must be made when the request for review is submitted. Fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
If you’re an advertiser and are unsure whether your organisation pays the advertising self-regulation levy, contact us at [email protected] with details of your media agency and we can check for you.
The independent review process
During the Independent review process the Community Panel’s original decision will still stand and the published decision will remain on our website until the review has finished.
For example, you might be an advertiser asking for a review of an ad that was found to be in breach. If so, you must fully comply with the original decision during the review process by withdrawing or amending the ad.
1. Request for independent review
Either the original complainant or advertiser submits the request for independent review within 10 business days after being informed of the Community Panel’s decision.
2. Independent Reviewer assessment
Requests for independent review are forwarded to the Independent Reviewer for assessment.
If the Independent Reviewer decides not to accept the request because they consider that it does not meet any of the grounds for review, the person making the request will be informed and the Community Panel’s original decision stands.
If the Independent Reviewer accepts the review request, they will then conduct the review.
During the review, the Independent Reviewer will assess the Community Panel’s decision-making process and review any new material provided. They will not conduct a merits review of the case.
The review process will include an invitation for other parties in the case (i.e. either the complainant(s) whose views were considered by the Community Panel or the advertiser) to comment in writing on the review request.
4. Independent Reviewer recommendation
When the review is completed, there are two different outcomes that can result. The Independent Reviewer can:
- Confirm that the decision was properly made – the original decision stands and no further action is taken.
- Recommend that the case go back to the Community Panel for reconsideration.
5. Community Panel reconsideration
If the Independent Reviewer recommends that the Community Panel review its decision, the case will be reconsidered by the Community Panel at its next meeting.
The Independent Reviewer’s recommendation and any material submitted during the review process will be provided to the Community Panel. The Community Panel will then review its decision in line with any recommendations made by the Independent Reviewer. The Community Panel will then decide to either uphold or dismiss the original complaint/s.
The Community Panel are not obliged to alter its original decision.
All parties are notified of the Community Panel’s final decision following the review. The decision and details of the Independent Reviewer’s recommendation will be included in the published case report.
The Community Panel’s decision on reviewed cases is final. No further review is possible.