VCAT hearings during coronavirus restrictions

Posted on 28 Apr 2020

VCAT continues to change the way it operates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We have changed the way we hear matters so we can continue to provide this essential service to the Victorian community.

If you have a hearing listed on or after 18 May 2020

From 18 May, VCAT will expand the types of matters that it hears to include matters already listed for hearing where they can reasonably proceed using telephone or videoconference. It is an offence to record any part of a VCAT hearing without permission (Court Security Act 1980).

VCAT will advise when face-to-face hearings resume.

VCAT will contact parties with matters listed on or after this date to confirm whether their matter will progress on the listed date either via telephone or videoconference.

The technology used will depend on the requirements of the matters such as their length, complexity and the number of parties.

Matters that can be determined ‘on the papers’ will continue to be determined in that way.

All listed matters which can only proceed face-to-face will be adjourned to a future date to be fixed.

Mediations conducted by VCAT Panel mediators will resume.

If your hearing has been adjourned

Where possible, matters previously adjourned as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be relisted for hearing, if they can proceed using telephone or videoconference. A plan to manage the backlog of matters is in development.

VCAT will contact parties to advise new listing dates.

Further information

If you require further information call 1300 01 8228 or visit Today's Hearings for case times. 

If you have material to submit for your telephone or videoconference hearing, email VCAT and all parties 48 hours prior to your hearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Existing cases

My case is being heard by phone or videoconference, what is the process?

VCAT will contact you to let you know the scheduled time for the hearing.

At the time of the hearing, VCAT will contact each party by phone or videoconference on the number that the party has provided.

If your case is about a rental property, you will be contacted within an hour of your allocated hearing time. Your VCAT hearing will be heard via an Optus teleconference call. We will call you on a number with a 02 prefix and you must accept to join the hearing. 

A phone hearing or videoconference is no different to a hearing in person, so ensure you are in a quiet location and have any relevant paperwork at hand. Find out how to prepare for your hearing.

Find out more information on how to address the member, making an oath, and on the order of proceedings on the hearing day.

If you require further information or need to advise us of an alternative number or party name, call 1300 01 8228

Make sure you check today’s hearings to keep up to date with your hearing time. Due to capacity issues, we may not be able to remind you when your upcoming hearing is.

What happens if I miss my hearing?

VCAT will inform you of your allocated hearing time in advance. If you cannot make this time you should request a change of hearing date. If you miss the hearing for your case, the member may make a decision and create orders in your absence. Find out how to request a review or rehearing.

How can I pay my application or hearing fee? 

You can pay application and hearing fees online or by post. Hearing fees can be paid from 4.30pm the day before your hearing. For more information, check fees at VCAT.

Can I still request a summons for a person to attend a hearing?

We can issue a summons at your request. The person summonsed will be required to attend the hearing, give evidence or produce documents. 

Temporary regulations made in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have brought changes to the way in which a person can respond to a summons. A person summonsed may attend a VCAT hearing by audio or audio-visual link, and may deliver summonsed documents to VCAT electronically (eg. by email).

For more information, see our guidelines for requesting the issue of a summons to appear

I want to change or withdraw my application. What do I do? 

To change or withdraw your application, you must let us know in writing.

I want to resolve my case with the other party. What should I do?

You may be able to resolve your dispute by negotiating with the other party. If you can resolve your dispute you may not need to have a hearing. Find tips and information on how to settle before the hearing.

I've encountered financial hardship and would like to request a rent reduction. What should I do?

VCAT suggests you contact your landlord via your agent (where applicable) to discuss what options may be available to you. If you're experiencing difficulties visit Consumer Affairs Victoria for further information.

New cases

Is VCAT still accepting new cases?

You can still apply about any matter that falls in VCAT's jurisdiction. 

Given the current circumstances are existing timeframes for applications still relevant? 

Yes, current application time limits are still relevant.

I’ve been asked to respond to an application. What do I do? 

Find out how to respond to a case.

Do VCAT Practice Notes still apply?

Practice Notes are issued by the Rules Committee and are directives relating to the practice and procedure of the Tribunal and each of its Lists pursuant to s158 of the VCAT Act. 

In any proceeding, the Tribunal may at its discretion vary the operation of a Practice Note by direction or order. 

In any case, the Tribunal may be required to amend its practices to accommodate technological and procedural changes as a consequence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

If the Tribunal (or a List within the Tribunal) makes a change to its procedure by order or direction, the procedural change overrides a Practice Note to the extent of any inconsistency.