Directions hearings and practice day hearings

A directions hearing is a brief session where a VCAT member decides how a case should be managed and how much time it will take.

Directions hearings are not required for every case.

How to ask for a directions hearing

We can decide to hold a directions hearing or a party in the case can ask for one. Apply for a directions hearing using the Application for directions hearing or orders.

What happens at a directions hearing

At the directions hearing, the VCAT member may:

  • clarify any issues in the application
  • look at the documents each party will use to support their case
  • tell you that documents and other materials must to be sent to VCAT and the other parties by certain dates
  • decide whether there should be a mediation or compulsory conferences
  • find out how many witnesses might appear and order parties to prepare witness statements
  • find out whether expert witnesses might appear and order parties to prepare expert witness statements
  • set a timetable for the case
  • set the date and location for the final hearing
  • talk to the parties about whether they can resolve the dispute themselves at the directions hearing.

How to prepare

If you are prepared for a hearing, your case is likely to run more smoothly. To prepare for a directions hearing:

  • become familiar with how VCAT works, especially for your type of case
  • be ready to answer questions about your application or your response to an application
  • make a list of the documents you will use as evidence to support your case and the documents you need from the other party
  • write down your witnesses and their availability
  • decide whether you need an expert witness
  • write down what you would like VCAT to do or decide for this case.

Be ready to take notes during the hearing. If you plan to use a laptop or other electronic device to do this, see Photography, recording, mobile phones and electronic devices.

Bring your evidence

Bring all the documents you believe support your case. A directions hearing does not look in detail at any evidence. Learn more about evidence.

Attend a directions hearing

You must come to a directions hearing in person.

We may allow a family member or friend to help you during a directions hearing. You can also ask at a directions hearing to have a professional represent you throughout the case, such as a lawyer, real estate agent or a planner. In some cases, VCAT must first approve having someone represent you at the directions hearing. Learn more about professional representation at VCAT.

Apply to attend by telephone or video

If it is difficult for you or your representative to come to a hearing in person – for example if you live in the country or interstate, you have a disability or to ensure your safety – you can apply to attend by telephone or video. Make your request as soon as possible.

Practice note for directions hearings

There is more information about directions hearings in the VCAT practice note PNVCAT 5 - Directions Hearings and Urgent Hearings.

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.