Preparing for your phone or videoconference hearing

A phone or videoconference hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. allows all parties a chance to make submissions, to give and hear evidence, and ask questions of you and your witnesses. A VCAT memberDefinitionA person who hears and decides cases at VCAT. Some members are specialists in particular areas of law. listens to submissions and evidence, and makes a decision, either at the end of the hearing or in writing as soon as possible afterwards.

It is an offence to record any part of a VCAT hearing without permission (Court Security Act 1980).

Prepare early

Prepare early so you can gather all the evidence you need to present the best possible case. Make sure you email all parties and VCAT the supporting documents on which you intend to rely on well before the hearing.

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

If you cannot make a hearing

If you cannot make the scheduled date for your phone or videoconference hearing, request a change of hearing date as soon as possible.

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 emailed to VCAT well in advance of your 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 be in the hearing with you

You can have someone in your phone or videoconference hearing for support. This support personDefinitionIn cases about medical treatment and advance care directives, this is someone who represents another person’s interests about medical treatment. They support a person to make, communicate and help bring about the person’s medical treatment decisions. 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 assistance, video links, or family violence support), contact us as early as possible so we can assist you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.

On hearing day

Ensure you are ready for your phone or videoconference hearing at the allocated time or within the allocated timeframe. If you are not available for the hearing, orders may be made against you.

VCAT phone and videoconference hearings may be less formal, but there are still rules to follow and things to do. Our cases are heard by members. Some cases are heard by judicial members (our president or vice presidents) who are also judges.

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. 

Your right to a fair hearing

Both sides have a right to a fair hearing; the member ensures this happens. The member explains what to do as throughout the case. If you are not sure what to do, ask the member. To learn more about our fair hearing obligation, see Practice Note PNVCAT3 - Fair Hearing Obligation.

Etiquette for phone and videoconference hearings

  • Turn off or eliminate background noise and distractions. Use headphones if possible.
  • All VCAT hearings, including phone and videoconference hearings, are recorded.
  • It is important you email any documents or evidence you wish to rely on in your hearing to VCAT and all other parties well before your hearing.
  • Mute your phone or microphone if not speaking to avoid feedback or noise.

When the hearing starts

We encourage people to resolve their disputes before reaching a final hearing. Even at the final hearing, the member may check if the parties can agree to resolve the matter before formally conducts the proceeding. If the parties cannot agree, the member starts the hearing.

Be polite

Everyone must be polite. We expect every person in the hearing to treat others in the hearing with courtesy and respect.

How to address the member

You can call a member 'Sir' or 'Madam'.

Address the president as 'Your Honour'.

Call the vice president, 'Judge'.

Oath or affirmation

You and your witnesses may be asked to make a formal promise to tell the truth in the hearing by making an oathDefinitionA solemn promise made before God or a deity to tell the truth. It can be made using a religious text such as a Bible, Tanach or Koran, but does not require one. or affirmationDefinitionA solemn promise to tell the truth. . We will tell you how to complete the oath or affirmation.

Order of proceedings

A hearing proceeds in an organised way. The order in which parties present their case can be different based on the case type. In many cases, the applicantDefinitionThe person or organisation applying to VCAT. is the first to state their case, provide evidence and call witnesses.

The member may ask you and your witnesses questions, especially where there is no respondentDefinitionThe party against whom orders or relief is sought by an applicant. . The respondent may also ask you and your witnesses questions. This is called cross examination. The respondent will then give evidence as will the witnesses for the respondent and you may ask them questions.