Steps to resolve your case

VCAT provides a fair, efficient and cost-effective system for resolving disputes. VCAT is deliberately less formal than a court and we encourage you to represent yourself where possible.

We make decisions according to the facts and law relevant to each case. Some cases may take 15 minutes to resolve, while others may take a day or more. In rare cases, it may take several weeks if there are complex issues involved. Because each dispute is different, we will work out a suitable approach for your case.

Fees usually apply depending on the type of application you make. Check our fees information page.

Time limits may also apply, check if time limits apply by reading the information for your type of case.

Case types

Some details of the steps to follow during a VCAT case vary for different case types.
Choose a case type to see any case type specific variations.

  • When we receive an application and the correct fee, we first review it to make sure it fits within VCAT's jurisdictionDefinitionThe authority of a court or tribunal to hear matters brought before it. and then open a new case.

  • Many people choose to represent themselves at VCAT. In most cases you do not need to be represented by a lawyer or a professional representative. Usually you must ask for VCAT's permission to have someone represent you.

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

  • In most cases you have to pay a fee when you apply to VCAT or use some VCAT services.

  • You may need to apply within a certain time for VCAT to be able to hear your case. Alternatively you may need to wait for time to pass before you can apply. Check if time limits apply by viewing the information for your type of case.

  • If an application has been made against you, the VCAT application form and the documents associated with your case describe you as the respondentDefinitionThe party against whom orders or relief is sought by an applicant. . The person who made the application is described as the applicantDefinitionThe person or organisation applying to VCAT. .

  • You may be able to resolve your dispute by negotiating with the other partyDefinitionA person or organisation directly involved in a VCAT case, including a person or organisation that has brought the case before VCAT or who is defending claims made against them. . If you can resolve your dispute there may be no need to attend a hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. .

  • The hearing allows all parties a chance to give and hear evidence, ask questions of you and your witnesses, and provide supporting documents. A VCAT member listens to the evidence and makes a decision, either at the end of the hearing or in writing afterwards.

  • Make sure you are at the hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. at least 15 minutes early. If you arrive late there may be orders made against you. VCAT is a tribunal so we are less formal than a court, but there are still some rules to follow and things to do when you attend a hearing.

  • When the final hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. is complete, VCAT makes a decision in the case.