Goods and Services

If you have a dispute about goods or services that you bought or sold, the Civil Claims List Definition A 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. at VCAT may be able to hear your case.

If your claim is about any building work, go to Building and Construction.

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can deal with disputes:

  • around the purchase or supply (or possible purchase or supply) of any goods or services of any value
    • by any individuals, businesses or companies against each other
    • for any amount of money
    • that arise in or is connected to the State of Victoria
  • to dispose of uncollected goods, including vehicles
  • under the Australian Consumer Law for
    • misleading conduct
    • unconscionable conduct
    • consumer guarantees

Cases VCAT cannot hear

VCAT cannot hear cases about:

  • disputes between employers and employees
  • disputes between neighbours about their fences, trees or unsocial behaviour unless it is also an Owners Corporation dispute
  • disputes between drivers in car accidents
  • disputes between people not connected with Victoria.

Time limits

If you have a dispute under the Fair Trading Act 1999 or the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, generally you must apply within six years of the dispute. If the dispute was more than six years ago, you may still apply but the other party Definition A person or organisation directly involved in a VCAT case, including a person or organisation that has brought the case before VCAT or who is defending claims made against them. may successfully argue that we should dismiss the case. If the dispute started before 1 September 1999, there may be additional time limits. Contact us for further information.

For applications under the Motor Car Traders Act 1986, you must apply within three months of the sale. If you complain to the seller within that time, you must apply to us within one month of making the complaint.

Before you apply

Before you apply try to contact the other party and negotiate to resolve the dispute. Think about the outcome you want before contacting the other party, including how much you would accept to settle a dispute if you claim you are owed money.

Make sure you and the other party agree whether to talk off the record. Listen carefully to what they say, try to understand their position and suggest possible solutions. Be prepared to negotiate and compromise.

Consumer Affairs Victoria provides information about your rights as a consumer or business.

If you do not reach an agreement then you can apply to VCAT.

Documents you must supply with your application

If you have a dispute with a business, company or incorporated association Definition An organisation, such as a club, formally set up as a separate, legally-recognised body. , you need to provide formal documentation about them along with your application.

Dispute with a business

If your dispute involves goods or services provided by a business, you must include a business names extract from ASIC showing the proprietor's name and registered address.

A person may trade under a business name. For example, John Smith may be trading as Smithy's Plumbing.

Buy the business names extract, called Current Business Name Information, by searching ASIC's register for business names

Watch this video to find out how to get an ASIC business names extract.

Video transcript

Dispute with a company

If your dispute involves goods or services provided by a company, you must include a company extract from ASIC showing the company's name and registered address.

A company usually has a name ending with either 'PTY LTD' or 'LTD'. For example, J. Smith Pty Ltd.

Buy the company extract, called Current Company Information, by searching ASIC's register for companies

If the company owns a registered business name, you must also get a business names extract from ASIC's register for business names

Watch this video to find out how to get an ASIC company extract.

Video transcript

Dispute with an incorporated association

If your dispute involves goods or services provided by an incorporated association, your application must include an extract from the Register of incorporated associations held by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

An incorporated association usually has the word 'association' in its name or a name ending with 'Inc'. For example, ABC Association of Victoria or ABC Club Inc.

You may be charged a fee by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) to obtain the extract.

Watch this video to find out how to get an incorporated association extract.

Video transcript

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. Lawyers are usually not allowed to represent you for a civil claim that is less than $10,000.

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

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:

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