Application to request VCAT conducts an inquiry

Under some Acts of Parliament, VCAT can accept applications from regulatory bodies or other authorities to conduct inquiries into the conduct of licensed individuals or organisations.

Legislation that applies to this case type

Who can apply for an inquiry at VCAT?

Only a regulatory body can apply to VCAT to hold an inquiry. If the inquiry is about your conduct, you will be a party – the respondent – in the case.

  • The regulatory body completes the Application for Inquiry form and pays the relevant fee.

  • When VCAT receives the regulatory body’s application 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. If you have been told to attend a compulsory conference, you should prepare an opening statement. Use the opening statement to clearly state your case and what you hope to achieve. It can be a helpful starting point for discussion between the parties. You also need to think about the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the other party’s case. See more about how to resolve a case by agreement.

  • At the final hearing the VCAT member decides the case based on the law, witness statements and the 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.

    When we make directions for filing material for the hearing we give the person exposed to a penalty the option of doing one of two things:

    Either to:

    • file and serve all material on the applicant all material, upon which he/she seeks to rely, (including his/her defence to the allegations and) statements of evidence of each witness to be called at the hearing

      OR
    • file and serve on the applicant an outline of argument which identifies in broad terms the issues for determination.

    Practitioners and parties should give careful consideration as to the course they wish to follow.

  • 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. Be ready to present your case.  Read more about what to expect on hearing day.

  • The VCAT member 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 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 the regulatory body in most cases uses 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. 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.