Help with legal advice

Legal representation, how to get to free and low cost legal advice, other organisations that can help, who pays legal fees.

Should I get a lawyer?

VCAT cannot give legal advice. If you do choose to get legal advice, you will need to pay any costs. 

If you want to talk about what you should do, you can access free or low-cost legal advice or find a private lawyer.
  
If you want a lawyer or other professional representative to speak on your behalf at VCAT, let the other party know in writing before the hearing and ask permission when the hearing starts. You will need to explain why. 

For some case types you have an automatic right to representation.

If the claim is for goods and services under $15,000, we generally don’t allow a lawyer or other professional representative to speak for you at VCAT. 

If you do choose to get legal advice, you’ll need to pay any costs. 

Read more about legal and professional representation
 

What other organisations can help?

We can’t give you legal advice, but there are other organisations you can speak to about your dispute. 

These organisations may be able to help. You can contact them before you come to VCAT, or after your case has started. 

Find out more about organisations that may help

See also: What support can I get on the day at VCAT?

Who pays for my legal costs?

At VCAT, parties are expected to pay their own costs, unless we order otherwise.

VCAT may only award costs if it is fair to do so.

If you would like someone else to pay your legal costs, tell the VCAT member overseeing your case during the hearing.

Examples of circumstances where an order for costs may be made include:

  • where a matter was brought to VCAT without much merit
  • where a matter was brought to VCAT to harass, annoy or distress someone
  • where a matter was brought to VCAT without a serious purpose
  • where someone has unreasonably prolonged a hearing
  • where someone deceived VCAT or others involved in a case
  • where the application made is not well supported, such as by fact or law.

Section 109 of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Act 1998 governs VCAT's power to award costs.

See also: Should I get a lawyer?