If you decide that a Departmental Review doesn't sound like a good idea, the alternative is a Review Hearing. It is important to note, that a Departmental Review and/or a Review Hearing must be completed (one or the other or both) prior to moving to an Appeal Hearing or Judicial Review.
Our information and research tells us that very few Judges will hear or set a date for a review, unless you have exhausted all options through the Department.
A Judicial Review is a Federal Court, and there is no process requirements to first go through any Provincial or Territorial Court System.
At VRAB (Veteran's Review and Appeal Board) Review Hearings you may attend in person before members of the Board (usually two) at VAC's expense.
The lawyer (see our article on Appeal Hearings) will conduct the hearing by going through the documentation in your file with the Board members, asking questions of you and/or any witnesses, introducing new evidence, and making oral argument on your behalf.
If you are unable to appear personally due, for example, to illness, your lawyer may proceed in your absence, with your consent. You may be permitted to testify by telephone, if you have the agreement of the Board.
The Bureau represents as many as 600 clients a month before Review Panels. A centralized computer tracking system allows the Bureau's Head Office to determine the number of claims pending hearing across Canada. Hearing schedules are prepared two to three months in advance, depending on the case load in each area. You will be given plenty of advance notice of your hearing and it will be scheduled at a time and place as convenient for you as possible.
The Bureau has a service standard of 21 weeks for Review Hearings. This time is calculated from the date you contact the Bureau to the date your case is ready for hearing minus the time it takes to obtain necessary medical or other supporting information. The VRAB is usually able to provide a written decision within 6 weeks of a hearing, so you will probably know the outcome of your case within six months of first approaching the Bureau.
It is very, very important if you decide to go down this path, that you keep and accurate diary/notes on when you have completed every detail.
Please ensure that you read the following articles.Click on the links below will open a new browser window/tab.
There are items that you need to be aware of about Review Hearings.
- To ensure you receive prompt service, your claim may be handled by any of the VRBA offices across the country.
- Review hearings are normally conducted by two Board members.
- Your advocate will contact you before your hearing to discuss your case.
- The hearing is informal. You will sit at a boardroom table with your advocate beside you and the Board members opposite you. At the beginning of the hearing, the Board members will welcome you and introduce themselves.
- Your case will likely be one of five or so cases heard that morning. Each case takes around 30 minutes to hear.
- The hearing will be held in the official language of your choice.
- You will be sworn in or affirmed before the hearing begins.
- The proceedings will be recorded.
- The Board members will have with them a summary of your case and any other material that your advocate submitted in support of your claim.
- Your advocate will present your case, review the relevant evidence and make argument on your behalf. This will include asking you, or any witnesses you have, specific questions about your claim. The Board members may also have questions for you.
- If time permits, your advocate will debrief you after the close of the hearing.
- Your travel costs to attend the Review Hearing will be reimbursed by Veterans Affairs Canada. For more details, talk to someone from the Bureau.
- The Board will make every effort to mail you its decision within about six weeks of the hearing. You may contact the Board at the following toll-free number: 1-800-450-8006.
If you would like help from us, please contact us here.