How to respond to an application or VCAT notice
What to do if VCAT contacts you and your options if someone is taking you to VCAT.
If you get a letter from VCAT called a ‘notice’ (and you didn’t make the application), this means someone has applied to us making a claim against you or asking for a decision.
Our role is to help resolve the dispute by encouraging the parties to reach an agreement (settle)or by making a legal decision in a hearing.
It’s in your best interests to come to VCAT to have your say. If you don’t attend, we can still make a decision that affects you. For example, you have to do something or pay money to the other person or business. VCAT’s decision can be enforced by a court.
We’ll tell you if you have to come to a mediation, hearing or compulsory conference by email, mail or SMS. This includes the date, time, location, how to prepare and information about what will happen.
Read more about what happens at VCAT
If you get a letter or notice from VCAT to say you’ve been named in a VCAT application but you’re not the right person:
- speak to the person who made the application right away. Their details are in the letter we sent you. Confirm you’ve done this in writing, and send a copy to us
- apply for a directions hearing or order to ask to be removed from the application or to apply for the case to be dismissed
- talk to the member at the start of the hearing.
A points of defence is a written statement in response to a claim made to VCAT. We often ask parties to prepare a points of defence if they are taken to VCAT because they are involved in a dispute about a product or service.
If someone applies to VCAT to try to have a dispute they have with you resolved, the applicant gives you and VCAT details about the issues they have with you on their application or their points of claim.
As part of the case, you must submit a points of defence that sets out your response to the claim/s made against you, including any allegations you want to dispute.
This points of defence must state:
- your response to each of the applicant's allegations, including whether you admit or deny them
- what you dispute against the claims made against you
- any additional points supporting your defence against an allegation.
If you have your own claim against the applicant, you can submit an application with VCAT. This is called a counterclaim.
Don’t confuse defending yourself against a claim with making your own claim. If you simply want to defend yourself against the applicant's claim, you don’t need to make your own application.
For example, a plumber is taking you to VCAT because they claim you didn’t pay them. Your counterclaim is that the plumber didn’t perform the work properly and didn’t complete the work you hired them to do. You want VCAT to order them to finish the job, or to pay the cost of another plumber to fix the defects and finish the job.
To make your own claim, you have to pay an application fee when you submit your application. The fee depends on the type of case, your fee category (standard, concession, corporate) and the value of your claim.
If you decide to make your own claim:
- Submit your claim to VCAT as soon as possible before the hearing.
- Write the reference number of the application made against you on your own claim form. This means both claims can be heard together.
- When you receive the hearing notice for your claim, contact us if both claims are not listed at the same date and time.
If you haven’t received documents that the other party is using to support their case within seven days, contact them directly to ask for a copy. Their contact details are on the application.