Statement of grounds

A statement of grounds sets out your reasons for contesting a current planning and environment case at VCAT.

How to lodge a statement of grounds

You must lodge a statement of grounds by the date stated on the VCAT order.

You must fully explain your reasons for contesting the case.

You can participate at the hearing or compulsory conference by choosing to be a party to the case.

If you want to become a party to the case, you must pay a lodgement fee when you give VCAT your statement of grounds.

If you choose not to become a party to the case, you do not pay a lodgement fee but you cannot participate at the hearing or compulsory conference. Your statement of grounds will still be considered if we receive it by the due date.

You must provide copies of the statement of grounds to VCAT, the applicant and the responsible authority by the date stated in the VCAT order. You can do this by email, by post or in person.

Withdrawing your objection

If you want to withdraw your objection after lodging your statement of grounds, you must tell VCAT, the applicant and the responsible authority in writing. You will then be withdrawn from VCAT's record and receive no further correspondence.

Need help with your application?

VCAT cannot give you legal advice. Seek legal help if you are unsure about your legal options. The following services may be able to help you:

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You may have a legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT (such as a lawyer, town planner, relative, or some other person). In Planning and Environment cases you do not need to have VCAT's permission to be represented.

Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. For more about applying for confidentiality.

Legislation that applies to this type of case

  • When VCAT receives an application for review we assign a reference number. We send you a copy of the initiating order if you are entitled to be informed of an application or if we have decided you should receive notice of an application.

    The initiating order sets out the steps in the progress of your case to a final decision. The order gives directions to you and other parties about the serving of documents on others and specifies the date of the final hearing and, if necessary, the dates of a practice day hearing and/or compulsory conference.

    The initiating order specifies the date by which a statement of grounds must be submitted by the specified persons. 

    Read more about statements of grounds in applying to start a case and about initiating orders in steps when VCAT opens a case.   

  • A compulsory conference is a form of mediation. We use compulsory conferences to allow parties to work together towards a settlement.

    If you have been told to attend a compulsory conference, you need to prepare an opening statement. Use the opening statement to clearly state your case. It can be a helpful starting point for discussion between the parties. See more about how to resolve a case by agreement.

  • VCAT members decide cases based on the parties' submissions and the expertise of the members. In many cases submissions are supported by evidence, witness statements and/or an inspection. As soon as you receive the initiating order, start preparing for the hearing. If you are going to apply to amend plans or call expert evidence, you will have to meet detailed requirements and strict timeframes. Gather together the documents you will bring to the hearing to support your case, for example, six copies of your written submission, photographs, videos, and witness statements. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing and read our guide for submissions in hearings.  

  • Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. Go directly to the hearing room, do not wait for your case to be called. Write your name on the appearance sheet for your case. The appearance sheet will be on the hearing room table. The hearing gives all parties a chance to make submissions, to give and hear evidence, ask questions, call witnesses and provide supporting documents.  Normally the responsible authority makes the first submission, followed by the referral authorities (if any), any objectors and finally the permit applicant. Each party has a brief right of reply. Read more about what to expect on final hearing day.

  • The VCAT member may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time or a site visit they normally give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If you want the reasons in writing, make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.