Help with your hearing
What to do if you can’t come or miss your hearing, and help with phone hearings.
What happens at a phone hearing?
A phone hearing – like a hearing in person – allows all parties a chance to make submissions, to give and hear evidence, and ask questions of you and your witnesses.
A VCAT member listens to submissions and evidence, and makes a decision, either at the end of the hearing or in writing as soon as possible afterwards.
It’s important you email any documents or evidence you want to rely on in your hearing to VCAT and all other parties well before your hearing.
See also: What do I say at VCAT?
Where is VCAT?
Our headquarters and main hearing venue is at 55 King Street in Melbourne.
You’ll find us on the corner of King Street and Flinders Lane. We are a 10-minute walk from Southern Cross Station or a five minute tram ride from Flinders Street Station.
We also hear cases in other metropolitan and regional locations. For example, Koori Court is in Oakleigh.
Find out more about our locations
How do I get the date of my hearing?
We send you the time, date and location of your hearing in a letter called a ‘notice’.
We can give you some details about your hearing if you call or visit us, but we can’t fast-track the process of getting your hearing date. We understand your case is important and we’re working hard to schedule hearings as soon as possible.
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 after 4.30pm the day before at Upcoming hearings.
How do I change my VCAT date?
A change to the date of a directions hearing, mediation, compulsory conference or hearing is called an ‘adjournment’.
If you can’t come to VCAT on the date we give you, you can ask for a change of date (adjournment).
First, ask the other parties in the case to agree using the Request for consent to an adjournment form.
Then, send us an adjournment application form no later than:
- two business days before a directions hearing, mediation or compulsory conference
- two business days before a hearing for a residential tenancy case
- five business days before a hearing for all other cases.
- give us good reasons for the change, like a sudden illness, accident or bereavement in the family
- give us evidence in writing to support your reasons (for example, a medical certificate)
- ask for the change in writing no later than two business days before the directions hearing, mediation or compulsory conference or five days before a final hearing.
We may not agree to change the date, even if every person involved in the case agrees. Ask for an adjournment as soon as possible.
A change of date isn’t always possible, and we can’t change the date simply to speed things up. The hearing will go ahead as scheduled if we don’t confirm a new date and time with you.
Download the Adjournment Application Form
See also: What happens if I can't come to VCAT?
What happens if I can’t come to VCAT?
If you can’t come to VCAT in person or on the scheduled date for a serious reason (for example, you have a disability, are away or unwell) you have a few options. You can:
- ask to attend by phone – VCAT decides if this is fair to all parties.
- apply to change the date (adjourn) two business days before you’re due to come. For a final hearing, you must do this at least five business days before.
- ask for permission to give someone the authority to come in your place. This is different from having a legal or professional representative.
Template of written authority for someone to represent you
Use this template to give someone authority to represent you. We call this person an ‘agent’.
I, <NAME> (or Your Company Pty Ltd, if a company),, a party in the VCAT case reference number xxxxx/20xx wish to be represented at VCAT.
I give permission for <representative's name and occupation> (add 'employed by the company' if you're a company) to represent me.
The agent has sufficient knowledge of the issues in dispute and has my permission to bind me to any settlement.
Signed:______________ Name:______________ Position:______________
What happens if I miss my hearing?
What happens if you miss the hearing depends on if you’re the applicant or the respondent.
- If you’re the applicant and you don’t come to the hearing, the hearing can’t go ahead and your application may be dismissed or struck out
- If you’re a respondent and you don’t come, VCAT may make a decision that affects you and can be enforced by a court. For example, the member could make an order for costs against you.
If you have a reasonable reason for not coming, and you didn’t have someone come for you, you may be able to apply for a review and rehearing (called ‘reopening an order’).
You need to make this application within 14 days of finding out about the order. We may not agree to your request if you do not have a good reason for not attending.
How long will my hearing take?
We don’t know exactly how long each hearing will take. If we can, we will let you know how long we think it will take in the notice we send you.
The time a hearing takes depends on how complex the case is. They can range from one hour to a few days.
Your hearing may start later than the time listed. If you are planning for your hearing day and need to organise travel to VCAT, parking or services on the day, we recommend you plan to be at VCAT for the full day.
Make sure you know the VCAT location where your hearing is at so that you can plan your travel on your hearing day.
What do I say at VCAT?
We can’t give you legal advice or tell you what to say at VCAT. We can give you these tips:
- Understand what happens at a hearing. Think about observing a hearing of your case type to better understand what to expect, what the hearing room is like, how to act and how to dress.
- Stay calm. You may be stressed about coming to VCAT. You’re more likely to present your best case if you stay calm.
- Be prepared. Make sure you bring a copy of all the documents you sent to the respondent. Bring a pen and paper to take notes.
- Show don’t just tell. Show the member and the other parties evidence like photos, video, reports.
- Focus on the facts. Be clear about what happened. Describe the events in the order they happened.
- Listen. The member who hears the case will support you to talk about your side of the story. If you’re unsure at any time, they can help. Listen to what they say carefully.
- Watch your tone. Avoid aggressive, offensive language and behaviour. This is not acceptable.
- Keep to what we know. Avoid raising new issues at the hearing without telling the member and the other parties beforehand.
What do I bring to VCAT?
When you come to a VCAT hearing and give evidence at VCAT you need to support what you say with originals of documents.
You must bring these documents with you on the day – you can’t give us new evidence after we make a decision.
Bring copies of your documents for the member (the person who hears and decides cases) and the other people at the hearing. Both sides have a right to a fair hearing so you must show all your evidence to the other people involved in the case. Depending on the type of case, the documents you need could be:
- affidavits, statutory declarations and witness statements
- condition reports, contracts, leases, bond receipts and rental records
- quotes, invoices and receipts
- expert reports
- business diaries and financial records
- letters and notes of conversations or meetings
- photographs and videos
- plans and drawings
- timesheets and job records
- reports from doctors
- reports from social workers and case managers.
If the dispute is about a product, bring it if it’s a manageable size. You can’t print documents at VCAT but you can make photocopies for a small fee.
We strongly recommend you bring a mask if you need to come to one of our venues. If you're attending a hearing, you may be instructed to wear a mask during part or all of the hearing.
Find out more about preparing for your hearing
Who presides over VCAT hearings?
VCAT members hear and decide our cases. They are lawyers or specialists within a given field and are appointed by the Governor in Council.
Our president is a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, and our vice presidents are judges from the County Court of Victoria. They also hear some VCAT cases.