The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (also known as “VCAT”) provides legally binding dispute resolution but aims to be more accessible, affordable and efficient than the traditional courts. It is divided into 3 divisions: the Human Rights division, the Administrative division and the Civil division. Each division hears a variety of different matters.
VCAT does not deal with accidental claims, debt recovery, fencing depute or accidents. Common VCAT disputes include: tenancy disputes, building disputes, small civil claims, consumer complaints and guardianship applications.
How To File Application For VCAT Disputes
Step 1: VCAT disputes application
The first step to commence action in VCAT is to file an application within the correct division. Once this is done, VCAT will usually arrange a compulsory mediation where the dispute will be reviewed, and the parties will have a chance to resolve the matter between themselves. If mediation is not successful, the dispute will proceed to a hearing before a VCAT Member (a VCAT Member is not a court judge but they make the decisions in VCAT which are legally enforceable).
Step 2: Hearing the parties
At the hearing, the parties have the opportunity to give evidence, question witnesses and submit any important documents related to the case. The VCAT Member will then make a decision on the day, or in case of the complex matter, they will provide the decision afterwards in writing.
Some parties get the automatic right to appear with solicitors (such as the Council, credit providers, insurers, child and government departments) while others need to have permission from VCAT prior to the hearing.
Once VCAT has made an order it is legally binding on the parties.
A Few Tips
Reaching to an agreement would save you a lots of time as well cost.
- Stay relax and calm to reach an agreement: Do not get offended if there is an application against you
- Be prepared: You need to be prepared with options and alternatives to negotiate.
- Listen carefully: You should listen carefully to the other party as well. This would help you pick up things with your argument.