Essential Services Commission Act 2001 (review)

VCAT can review decisions made by the Essential Services Commission to regulate the price, quality and reliability of essential services.

This page provides general information and should not be considered as legal advice. Seek legal advice if you are unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

Essential services include services provided by the electricity, gas, water, rail, ports, towing, grain handling, non-cash payment transaction and commercial passenger vehicle industries.

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Cases we can hear

Under the Essential Services Commission Act 2001, we can review decisions by the Essential Services Commission:

  • requiring someone to provide information and documents or appear before the Commission – section 55(1)(a) of the Act
  • to disclose information or the contents of a document given to the Commission –  section 55(1)(b)
  • to make a determination – section 55(1)(c)
  • that a provider of port services has not complied with a port Pricing Order in a significant and sustained way – section 55(1)(d)
  • about a port Pricing Order – section 55(1)(e)
  • about certifying a capacity expansion proposal of a port – section 55(1)(f)
  • to make a determination about the minimum competitively neutral price for a service provided by a port operator – section 55(1)(g).

Cases we can't help with

We can’t accept some cases where one party lives in another state or is a Commonwealth government organisation.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

Section 55 of the Essential Services Commission Act 2001

Who can apply?

Anyone whose interests are affected by a decision or determination by the Essential Services Commission can appeal at VCAT.

A person who represents a consumer or user group may also apply to review a request to provide information or documents, a decision to disclose information or documents, or a determination being reviewed under section 55(1)(c).

Reasons for applying

To apply about a determination under section 55(1)(c), you may only do so because you believe the determination was biased, was based on the wrong facts or the facts were interpreted incorrectly.
To make any other application, you may only do so because you believe the decision, requirement or determination was not made according to the law or it was unreasonable under the circumstances.

Documentation you need to apply

Attach a copy of Service Victoria's decision to your application.

Time limits

You must make your application within 28 days of being notified of Service Victoria's decision.

You may be able to apply for an extension to this time limit.

What can VCAT order?

In some applications made under section 55(1)(c), VCAT can:

  • determine whether there was bias and if so, set aside the determination and remit (send back) to the Commission along with any VCAT orders (directions) or recommendations about the amendment.

In all other applications VCAT can:

  • affirm the original decision, in which case the original decision will stand
  • vary the decision
  • set aside the decision and remit (send back) to the Commission along with any VCAT orders (directions) or recommendations about the decision.


We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.

We cannot give you legal advice. This means we cannot tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.

Seek legal help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.

Make an application

You may have to pay a fee to apply to VCAT to review a decision. Learn more about fees or apply for fee relief.

Print-friendly application form

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you wish to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission. Be aware that the regulatory body in most cases uses legal representation.

Find 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.