The Immigration Appeal Division has jurisdiction over appeals regarding refusals of the family class. As stated by Justice Barnes in Gill v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)  F.C.J. No. 229, [in sponsorship appeals] the Panel "must proceed with great care because the consequences of a mistake will be catastrophic to the family."
To determine the appeal, the IAD usually holds a proceeding where it hears from the parties - both the sponsor (and any witnesses he or she wishes to call) and the Minister (represented by a hearings officer).
There are occasions however, where the IAD can or has determined the outcome of a matter without a full hearing. This has been the subject of judicial review on more than one occasion.
Depending on the particular circumstances, a legitimate expectation may arise that a full hearing will be held by a division of the Immigration and Refugee Board:
In Albarahmeh et. al. v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) 2010 FC 1153, the applicants claim for protection was heard, but there was an initial issue to be decided with respect to the exclusion of the male Applicant. Evidence was led and the a continuance occurred as the Panel scheduled a further hearing to conclude evidence and submissions. Prior to the further hearing being scheduled, the Board rendered its decision. In challenging the decision, the applicants alleged they were denied procedural fairness.
Phelan J. in finding a breach of procedural fairness had occurred, relied on the doctrine of "legitimate expectation." In so doing, he stated that, "The male Applicant contends that he did not think that the case was closed - not a startling position." Phelan J. went on to summarize the caselaw surrounding this doctrine noting that if the claimant has a legitimate expectation that a certain procedure will be followed, this procedure will be required by the duty of fairness."
Phelan J. continued in stating that:
"The male Applicant had a legitimate expectation that no decision would be made until all the evidence was in, on all the issue [...]
There was the potential matters that could arise in the third hearing which would affect the exclusion analysis... Therefore, there is substance to the procedural fairness issue foreclosed [...]
Lastly, more harm would be done to the parties, the administration and the public if a decision rendered in such a flawed manner is allowed to stand than if the matter is subject to a new determination by a new member . . . Perspectives and arguments may change but it is preferable, in the interests of justice, to have the whole of the truth exposed than to allow a flawed decision to stand."
In MCI v. Miltimore the matter was sent back to the IAD for reconsideration after the Applicant (the Minister) was denied an opportunity to cross examine the Applicant (at the hearing). In his decision, Justice Shore noted the following:
 In a tribunal proceeding wherein parties are heard (viva voce), listening to each party is not an option but is the very quintessential essence to any oral hearing. That is to ensure that parties will not only have been perceived to be heard but, in fact, will have been heard.
 A breach of procedural fairness renders a decision incompatible with the need for natural justice. When an opportunity for cross-examination is not provided, contradictory evidence cannot be said to have been evaluated by a decision-maker.
 ... a similar situation arose “where the duty to allow Mr. Kamtasingh to fully present his case was sacrificed for the desire for administrative efficiency. That is not a permissible trade-off [citations omitted]
It is imperative that efficiency not trump fairness.
One of the advantages in hiring counsel rather than try and handle an appeal by yourself is that counsel will be fully aware of your rights and will act vigorously to ensure that you have your (full) day in court.