Application to refer a matter to VCAT

Under some Acts of Parliament, VCAT can accept referrals from regulatory bodies, boards or panels to hear and decide cases about the professional conduct of individuals or from government agencies to hear and determine objections to certain decisions.

Legislation that applies to this case type

Who can refer a matter to VCAT?

Only a representative of a regulatory body, panel,board or government agency can refer a matter to VCAT. They may refer a matter on their own initiative or at the request of the person who is the subject of the matter. If you want a matter referred to VCAT, you must make your request directly to the relevant regulatory body, board or panel. If the referral is about your conduct or your matter you will be a party – respondent - to the application.

  • Only a representative of a regulatory body, panel, board or government agency can refer a matter to VCAT.

  • To refer a matter to VCAT, the regulatory body, panel or board completes the Application for Referral form.

  • When VCAT receives the application for referral we assign a reference number and send a copy of the application to the respondent in the case. The respondent receives a covering letter and a complete copy of the application. We may schedule a directions hearing or make preliminary orders setting a timetable for steps in the case. Remember the reference number and always use it when you write to us. Learn more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • In the Review and Regulation List we use compulsory conferences to allow the parties to work together towards a settlement or agreed positions. We may schedule a compulsory conference ourselves or, more usually, the parties to a referral will ask us to schedule one.

  • At the final hearing the VCAT member or panel of members decides the case based on the law, witness statements and evidence witnesses give at the hearing, and documents presented, and takes into account submissions the parties make.  Start your preparation in plenty of time to present the best possible case. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing. For information about our accessibility services and other support services, see customer support at VCAT.

    Disciplinary proceedings

    It is common practice across VCAT for orders to be made which require parties to file and serve all material upon which they seek to rely including statements of evidence of each witness and any other document upon which reliance is sought.

    In professional disciplinary proceedings, a different practice is followed.

    In Legal Services Commissioner v Spaulding (Legal Practice) [2015] VCAT 292,  Garde J, President, observed at [19]:

    ‘Penalty privilege will arise in proceedings of disciplinary character against legal practitioners, health practitioners, and other persons, and in general in any proceedings where monetary exaction, loss of office, forfeiture, or other penalty may arise.’

    Where penalty privilege arises, it will not generally be appropriate to require the party exposed to a penalty, before the close of the case against them, to file anything more than an outline of argument which identifies in broad terms what is in issue, although they may elect to do more. A person exposed to a penalty should not be required to set out in detail their proposed evidence, or a detailed acceptance or denial of facts. Those principles were established in Towie v Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria [2008] VSCA 157.

  • Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. When your case is called, move into the hearing room if you are not already sitting in the hearing room.  Read more about what to expect on hearing day

  • The VCAT member or panel of members may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time they normally give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date. The VCAT member or panel may give reasons for the decision orally at the hearing 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.

Professional representation 

You should consider whether you want to be represented by a lawyer or professional representative at VCAT or not. Be aware that applicants in referrals in most cases use legal representation. Read more about professional representation at VCAT.

Remember your reference number 

VCAT gives the parties a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you contact us or the other people involved in the case.

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. In some referral cases, we will make an order under the Open Courts Act 2013 of our own initiative.  Learn more about applying for confidentiality.

If you are involved in a matter and you want to see VCAT’s file, you need to make a request in writing for access. A VCAT member may consider your request. We will notify you of the outcome.

If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links, or family violence support) please contact us as early as possible so we can assist you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.