How long a VCAT case takes

Building and Property List | Civil Claims List | Guardianship List | Human Rights List | Legal Practice List | Owners Corporations List | Planning and Environment List | Residential Tenancies List | Review and Regulation List

This page shows how long you might expect a VCAT case to take.

This is an estimate based on typical cases. Your case may take more or less time. For example, a straightforward case may be resolved faster than the time shown here.

Factors that affect the time taken to resolve a case can include, for example:

  • the value of the underlying dispute
  • how complex the case is
  • whether forms are filled in properly
  • whether parties file documents on time.

Your first appearance is any appearance where a VCAT decision makerDefinitionA person who makes or has made a decision under legislation that gives them this authority. is present; for example, a directions hearingDefinitionA directions hearing is a hearing where a VCAT member decides how a case should be managed and how much time it will take. , mediationDefinitionMediations are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator. or compulsory conferenceDefinitionCompulsory conferences are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute with the help of a VCAT member. .

Building and Property List

  • More than 85 per cent of disputes in this ListDefinitionA List is an area in VCAT that deals with cases of a similar nature. For example, the Residential Tenancies List decides cases between tenants and landlords, and the Civil Claims List handles disputes about buying or selling goods and services. are resolved within 12 months.
  • More than 60 per cent of matters in this List with claim values under $100,000 that go through mediation, resolve at mediation.
  • Some of these resolve as early as eight weeks but, due to the complexity and range of disputes in this category some matters can take more than 30 weeks to resolve.
  • Matters with disputes valued over $100,000 are generally the most complex but most resolve within 12 months.
  • A matter may take longer for other reasons, such as the complexity of legal and technical issues particularly where the dispute concerns multi-unit developments, multiple related files, additional parties are joined to a proceeding and defects are identified after a proceeding starts.
Case Weeks to first appearance Weeks to final hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision.
Standard (under $15,000) N/A 8
Value ($15,001 to $100,000) 8 8-30
Value over $100,000 8 30-52

Civil Claims List

Based on consumer disputes (goods and services).

Case Weeks to final hearing
Cases up to $15,000 8


Guardianship List

Consideration of a matter occurs within 30 days for a Represented Person (RP). VCAT provides active and ongoing oversight of the support provided to an RP once an application is lodged.

Case Weeks to first appearance
Standard 4

Human Rights List

Based on discrimination cases

Case Weeks to first appearance Weeks to final hearing
Standard 4 15

Legal Practice List

Based on a cost dispute.

Case Weeks to first appearance Weeks to final hearing
Standard 4 12

Owners Corporations List

  • Based on fee recovery disputes. In most of these cases the application is supported by an affidavitDefinitionA written statement where the contents are sworn or affirmed to be true. Affidavits mu​st be signed in front of a witness who is an 'authorised person'. of the owners corporation manager.
  • The application cannot proceed until after the affidavit is sworn.
Case Weeks to final hearing
Standard 8

Planning and Environment List

  • At the onset of a standard case, VCAT issues orders, which direct the steps to be taken by the parties, and the dates by which they are to be achieved.
  • As a result, practice day hearings are not ordinarily conducted in a standard case.
  • By paying a fee, eligible proceedings can be placed in the Major Cases sub list, which has been established to expedite the resolution of disputes.
  • A practice day hearing, compulsory conference and inspection are conducted in Major cases.
  • The majority of land valuation cases are complex and involve the review of a valuation for rates and taxes and compensation disputes.
  • The timeframes for these cases usually involve a first appearance at a directions hearing (which usually occurs between the 8th and 10th week after lodgement).
  • Whilst many cases resolve prior to a final hearing, a matter which goes through the entire process up to final hearing will usually take at least 22 weeks to reach this point.
  • Some matters may take longer if they are more complex or if they are more vigorously contested.
Case Weeks to first appearance Weeks to final hearing
Standard - 25-26
Major 5 20
Land valuation 6 15 - 18

Residential Tenancies List

Possession claims can only be heard after the termination date in a notice to vacate. Typically proceedings go to hearing 2–­3 weeks after the termination date.

Case Weeks to final hearing
Standard 2 (after the termination date)

Review and Regulation List

It is difficult to estimate the time to resolve a case in this list because it deals with diverse matters that range in complexity - for example, transport accident cases, health practitioner regulation, Working with Children Checks, racing matters and Freedom of Information cases.

Applications can be made under more than 80 different pieces of legislation and can relate to a wide range of agencies – such as the Transport Accident Commission and local government – which may involve different processes.

Cases cannot always proceed when lodged – for example, there can be proceedings in another court, or an expert reportDefinitionAn expert report is a written report from an expert that may be used as evidence in a VCAT case. may be required. But when the parties are ready for hearing, a case will generally finalise within 8-12 weeks

Case Weeks to first appearance Weeks to final hearing
Standard 5 8-12 from the time parties are ready for the hearing