Applications in progress
What you should do after applying, including sending documents about your case, settling before VCAT, expert evidence, affidavits and points of claim.
The time it takes to come to VCAT and get an outcome depends on your type of case, and how complex it is. It will also depend on parties following the process within the timeframes.
Find out current timeframes for your case.
After we have received an application, it will be scheduled or 'listed' for a VCAT hearing, mediation or compulsory conference.
We'll send you the time, date and location of the hearing in a letter called a 'notice'.
The time this takes changes for each case type and can be longer if we don’t have all the information we need.
If you can't come on the day of your hearing, mediation or compulsory conference, you can ask to change the date.
Hearing times may change on the day. Check the time and location of your hearing the day before, from 4.30pm onwards, at Upcoming hearings.
See also: How do I get the date of my hearing?
We give each case a reference number. Use this reference number whenever you contact us or the other people involved in the case. You can find the reference number on any letters, emails or text messages we send you about your case.
Each VCAT reference number has a letter at the start to show what type of case it is. It also has the year that you applied. For example, a reference number for a rental dispute may be ‘R2020/123’.
The VCAT reference number is usually different to the number you get when you apply using one of our online forms.
If you are applying to VCAT, you must share a copy of your application and all other supporting documents that are part of your case (like evidence or correspondence with us) with the person or business you are making your claim against (the ‘respondent’ or ‘respondents’).
We’ll tell you when to do this. If you disadvantage someone by not giving them a copy of the documents you plan to use in the case, VCAT may make an order or award costs against you.
Whether you made the application or are defending a claim, if you’re writing to VCAT about your case, you must always send a copy to the other person or business (‘party’).
You can send copies of your application and other correspondence to parties by:
- email – if you’ve emailed them before applying to VCAT, or if they’ve given us their email address
- by post
- in person
Make sure you include your VCAT reference number with the documents.
Proof you sent documents
We need to see proof that you’ve shared your documents for some types of cases:
Goods and services cases
For goods and services cases, fill in the Declaration of Service form
Make sure you:
- complete all parts of the form
- sign it before an authorised witness
- send it to us at least one week before your hearing.
For planning and environment cases, fill in the Statement of Service form attached to your order. You need to send this to us by the date we give you in the order we sent you.
If we don’t receive the form by the date we give you, your application can’t progress and may be ‘struck out’ or cancelled. If it’s struck out, you can apply for it to be reinstated.
See also: What’s my VCAT reference number?
Trying to come to an agreement could save you the time, effort and the cost of going to a hearing at VCAT. Reaching agreement helps you put the dispute behind you and move on with your life.
Here are some tips on how to settle a dispute:
- Stay calm. You may be upset or offended that there is a claim against you. You’re more likely to reach agreement if you stay calm.
- Be prepared to negotiate. Think about a range of options or alternatives you would be prepared to accept. Think about the choices and what your ‘bottom line’ really is.
- Listen. Listen carefully to the other party so you don’t miss important details. You could also pick up things that will help with your argument.
- Watch your tone. Avoid aggressive, offensive language and behaviour. This is not acceptable.
- Focus on the outcome. Be clear about what you hope to achieve and ways to get there.
- Think about the other party’s position. They have their own perspective on the dispute, just like you do. Compromising and agreeing to some of their interests, as well as satisfying some of yours, gives you a better chance of reaching an outcome.
When you present your case at VCAT you can include evidence from experts to support your side of the story.
An expert report is a written report from an expert that a party uses as evidence in a VCAT case.
The expert must provide an impartial opinion based on their area of expertise. They must make an oath that their report is written to the best of their knowledge and expertise.
Any party in a VCAT case can organise and submit an expert report as evidence. For example:
- a person involved in a dispute about house renovations may ask a building consultant to provide an expert report
- in a planning case, a party (including objectors) may ask for a report from an aborist or heritage architect
The expert is generally expected to come to the hearing to explain key elements of the report. It allows the member and the parties to ask questions about the report. We tell you if we don’t expect the expert to attend, or you can ask us whether they need to come to VCAT.
An affidavit is a written statement where you say or ‘swear an oath’ that something is true.
If we ask you to give us an affidavit, you can write it by yourself but it must be signed in front of a witness who is an 'authorised person'. This can be done in person, by electronic signature or by audiovisual link.
Authorised affidavit takers include justices of the peace, bail justices, some police officers, lawyers and members or registrars at VCAT. You can find a complete list on the Department of Justice and Community Safety website.
A statutory declaration is a written statement that you sign and declare to be true.
If we ask you to give us a statutory declaration, you can write it by yourself but it must be signed in front of a witness who is an 'authorised person'. This can be done in person, by electronic signature or by audiovisual link.
Authorised witnesses include justices of the peace, police officers, medical practitioners, bank managers and registrars at VCAT. You can find a complete list on the Department of Justice and Community Safety website.
A points of claim is a statement that sets out the facts of your case and what result you are asking for. This is also known as a particulars of claim.
You can use the following advice for 'points of claim' too.
You should use numbered paragraphs which state each of the important points of your case.
This should include:
- full names of other people
- details of any agreement that you had
- dates of events
- itemised list of what you are asking for and why
- if you have evidence to prove events, talk about these documents. We will refer to these documents so you don't have to explain what it is.
- if your case is about a breach of the act explain how they have done this.
A short statement will make it easier for VCAT to understand the issues in your claim. See an example of a points of claim for a dispute about products or services bought or sold.
We list a case for an ‘administrative mention’ when parties need time to do something before their case progresses any further. This may be to provide further information, finalise an agreement or advise us that certain steps set out in the order have been completed.
The date set for an administrative mention is the deadline for you to update us on your dispute. Sometimes the order says that if you don’t let us know you want to proceed by the due date then orders will be made that ‘the proceeding is struck out with a right to apply for reinstatement’. You do not need to attend VCAT.