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Third Party Costs - SSAT Hearing

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My mother had to go to a solicitor.

Hi - I have read on prievious posts, that in some circumstances, costs incurred by third parties responding to a notice form the SSAT are entitiled for reimbursement of actual costs.  In my case, my mother, as trustee for her family trust (as I am the other trustee) was issued with a notice by the SSAT to produced trust bank statements, copy of the trust tax return filed with the ATO and a copy of the trust deed.

My mother, who is elderly, quite sensibly instructed her family solicitor to respond to the SSAT on her behalf.

My argument is (or request from some wisdom from this forum) - who should be responsible for paying for the solicitor's fees?

The SSAT notice sent to my mother was inrelation to the allegations made by the other parent, who for the want said "that I was entitled too, had access too, or the trust was a financial resource" of mine during ther period under review.

I have always maintained that my relationship as a trustee with the trust is one of a fiduciary relationship, much on the same as a solicitor is for a client's trust account, or me being a bank signatory on behalf of my company employer.  In any case there is no entitlement to the assets held.

I am considering in drafting a letter to the SSAT requesting they they pay for the solicitor's fees that my mother incurred in responding to their notice.

In my application I was considering raising the points of justification and the following facts.

1. The period under review (Sept 2006 to June 2007) has been reviewed by the C$A on four prior occassions (Sept 2007, Jun 2008, May 2010, & Jan 2011).  The SSAT reviewed the same period in Nov 2008 and now in Aug/Sept 2011.  (I had to apply to the FMC to have the Registrar review this period and the hearing was in Feb 2010)

2. In Sept 2007, they reviewed everything possible of my financial relationships, including employer, any real-estate held (Lands Office in each jurisdiction) motor vehicles (in each jurisdiction) several banking insitutions, ASIC, public share registeries, credit cards etc.  They did locate that I am a signatory to the trust (I had disclosed this previously) but the C$A review considered that I had income from a single source which was my wages.

3.  The Registrar and the SSAT are equally able to apply directly to the ATO, banking insitutions and the NSW Lands Office for information that they set out in their notice to my mother.  The SSAT was aware that I strongly objected to the involvement of my mother in these SSAT proceedings and that the allegations from the other parent are made out of malice and are designed to upset my mother.  The SSAT was aware of that and I put them on notice that my mother was elderly and that she would be requiring assistance to prepare the documents they requested.

So, the up shot of all this is that I have now a solicitor invoice for over $300 which should be paid by the SSAT.  Any ideas?
               a search for the word costs on the SSAT website results in 5 occurances. The first four all point to the same paragraph (headings etc) which states:

SSAT website said
It costs nothing to apply to the SSAT. There are also no penalties or fees if an application is withdrawn. It is important to note that the SSAT cannot make orders for costs against any other party or parties.

The SSAT may pay reasonable public transport travel expenses for a party to attend the hearing.

The 5th find is in the following:

SSAT website said
A party does not need to be represented at a hearing. Parties frequently appear unrepresented. However a party may wish to have a representative attend the hearing. A person who attends as a representative has a particular role to perform. If a person is performing the role of a representative (and is not a potential witness or in attendance for support) ordinarily that person would be permitted to represent a party. That enables them to make submissions on a party's behalf [section 103C(2) of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act]. Essentially this means that they are presenting a summary of that party's case and the points or issues that party wishes to make to assist the SSAT to understand their case. If a party does not feel able to perform this role, someone who is not a party may be in a position to do it on their behalf.

A representative should not attempt to give evidence. If they give evidence about the matter they are a witness rather than a representative. Ultimately it is for the SSAT to determine whether the person is a representative or a witness or support person.

The representative may, but need not, be a lawyer. However the SSAT cannot make any order for payment of the representative's costs. If a party chooses to bring a representative to the hearing, they must bear any costs of that representative's attendance.

If a party has a representative in attendance, a party will still need to attend the hearing to give evidence and answer questions which may be asked by the SSAT. If a party fails to participate in the hearing, their position might be adversely affected.

Basically I very much doubt that you will get any compensation. However, you definitely won't if you don't try. I'd suggest CDDA. However, SSAT don't appear to be covered by that or anything so they are even less accountable than the CSA.
Thanks Mike T

My issue is that my mother was never a party to the SSAT.  The SSAT have and was put on notice that the other party was pushing for this information out of malice.  It is my understanding that the SSAT will not be relying upon any information from the Trust because there was no basis of the other parent's claims.  It was open to the SSAT to make enquiries themselves to the other parties including requesting the same information from the Registrar of the C$A.

Isn't the objects of the SSAT to conduct a review that was to place itself "in the shoes of the Registrar in relation to the change of assessment process".  Logic flows that the Registrar would have obtained this information from third parties other than my mother, therefore, a third party should not bear the cost of SSAT notices because "in the shoes of the Registrar" this information could have been obtained without the burden of a self funded elderly lady.
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