How to prepare for your hearing

The hearing allows all parties a chance to make submissions, to give and hear evidence, ask questions of you and your witnesses, and provide supporting documents. A VCAT member listens to submissions and evidence, and makes a decision, either at the end of the hearing or in writing as soon as possible afterwards. You may have to attend more than one hearing depending on your case.

Prepare early

Start your preparation early so you can gather all the evidence you need to present the best possible case.

Give other people, including your witnesses, enough time to assist you and to be available on the hearing day. For example, arranging expert witnesses can take time.

You may use electronic equipment in our hearing rooms to help you present your case. We have audiovisual equipment and facilities to help people with disability. You may also be able to bring your own equipment. You must let us know if you want to use our equipment or your own. Find out more about our available hearing room technology and how to apply.

If you cannot make a hearing

If you cannot make the scheduled hearing date, request a change of hearing date as soon as possible.

You might also be able to attend the hearing remotely, such as by phone or video conference. Find out more about our hearing room technology.

Follow VCAT procedures

You must follow our rules and procedures carefully or there can be legal consequences. The rules and procedures are set out in VCAT's practice notes.

Seek advice if you need it

Some organisations offer free or low-cost advice that can help with your VCAT case. We've added links to the websites of organisations that may be able to help you to the bottom of our case type pages.

Authorising someone to represent you at the hearing

Usually people choose to represent themselves at VCAT. If you want to be represented at the hearing, you must give someone written authority to act as your agent.

The agent must have:

  • enough knowledge of the dispute to present your case
  • authority to agree to any settlement
  • authority to make promises to the Tribunal in relation to any decision.

Written authority must be shown at the start of the hearing.

A company must appoint an agent for the hearing. The written authority to act as an agent of a company must be signed by a company director.

Find more information about professional representation, including an example of written authority you can provide to an agent.

Who can come with you

You can bring someone along to your hearing for support. This support person could be anyone you choose, including a friend or family member. They cannot speak on your behalf.

Ask us for assistance

If you need help at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loops, video or telephone links, or family violence support) please contact us as early as possible so we can assist you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.

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.

Goods and Services

If you are the applicant

You must provide to each respondentDefinitionThe party against whom orders or relief is sought by an applicant. the following documents within 28 days of receiving a Notice of HearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. from VCAT:

  • a complete copy of the application form with any attachment
  • copies of all documents to be relied on at the hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. , including any expert reports, relevant contracts, correspondence, invoices, quotes and photographs.

You can provide these documents by sending them or giving them to the respondent personally. You can only send documents to other parties electronically (e.g. by email) if you communicated with them about the dispute this way before submitting your VCAT application or if the 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. gave us their electronic address.

If the respondent:

  • is an individual or a sole trader – send the documents to their street address or electronic address (e.g. email)
  • is a company – send the documents to the respondent's electronic address (e.g. email) or the registered address as shown on the ASIC company extract. The registered address may be different to the company's principal place of business address or any address shown on the company's letterhead.
  • uses a registered business name – send the documents to the electronic address (e.g. email) or address shown in the ASIC Business Name Extract. The applicantDefinitionThe person or organisation applying to VCAT. must name and serve all owners of the registered business name.
  • is an incorporated associationDefinitionAn organisation, such as a club, formally set up as a separate, legally-recognised body. – send the documents to the electronic address (e.g. email) or the address shown on the Register of Incorporated Associations held by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Bring your completed Declaration of ServiceDefinitionThis form confirms that you have provided a copy of your VCAT application and supporting documents to the other parties in a Goods and Services case. This declaration must be sworn before an authorised witness. Also known as an affidavit of service. to the hearing. You will receive a blank Declaration of Service form with the Notice of Hearing. Complete this declaration and have it witnessed by an authorised person such as a justice of the peace, pharmacist, police officer or bank manager.

If you are the respondent

At least 14 days before the hearing, you must send to each applicant all documents you will use to support your case. You can find details of each applicant on the top of the Notice of Hearing from VCAT.

If you believe you have a claim against the applicant (usually called a cross application or a counterclaimDefinitionIf you believe you have a claim against the applicant, you can lodge your own claim with VCAT. This is called a counterclaim. Most case types allow a counterclaim but for some case types it is not possible. ), you can complete your own application and lodge it with us as soon as possible so both claims can be heard together.