Posted on 04 Sep 2018
VCAT is piloting an online dispute resolution platform as an alternative to attending a hearing in person.
The pilot will apply to eligible small civil claims.
The online platform enables Victorians to have their matter heard and resolved by a VCAT member in real time using video and file sharing technology.
The pilot commences in September 2018 and will continue for one month. Potential participants are selected from hearings listed to take place during the pilot period and participation is voluntary. Participants must give their consent to participate and can opt out of the pilot at any time.
The online hearing is intended to be the same as attending the hearing in person. Participating in the pilot will have no impact on an individual case or the outcome of the hearing.
Following the pilot, VCAT will determine whether to pursue and implement online dispute resolution based on the success of the pilot.
Why is VCAT piloting the option to have disputes heard online?
On 22 October 2015, the Attorney General, the Hon Martin Pakula MP, asked the Department of Justice and Regulation to undertake the Access to Justice Review. The aim of the Review was to identify ways to improve access to justice for Victorians with an everyday legal problem or dispute.
Following the Access to Justice Review, the Victorian Government published a report that contained more than 60 recommendations to improve access to justice. One of the recommendations was to introduce online dispute resolution so Victorians could have their disputes resolved online.
What are the benefits of online dispute resolution to Victorians?
The benefits associated with online dispute resolution include:
- parties can log into the online platform from their own device at a location convenient to them
- parties are not required to travel to a VCAT location to have their matter heard
- documentation is conveniently and securely uploaded, stored and accessible to all parties relevant to the case through an online portal
- other people, such as witnesses, can also attend a hearing by logging into the online platform.
For more information about the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot contact the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot team:
- email ODR-Pilot@vcat.vic.gov.au
- call 03 9628 9892.