When VCAT opens a case

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.

Reference number

We assign each case a reference number. Use this reference number whenever you contact us or the other people involved in the case. The reference number appears on anything we send you about your case.

The VCAT reference number is usually different to the number you receive when you apply using one of our online forms. When we talk about the VCAT reference number, we mean the number that we assign to the case and attach to the VCAT file – not the online reference number.

What happens next

Depending on the type of case, we may give instructions about how the case will be managed. We refer many cases directly to mediationDefinitionMediations are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator. , directions hearings or small claims hearings without first making orders. 

Check the correspondence or notices you receive from VCAT carefully and follow the instructions we provide. 

When we open a case we give instructions to the applicantDefinitionThe person or organisation applying to VCAT. about how the case will be managed. These are called directions or orders. In most cases, we also give instructions to the other parties in the case.

Find out how long before your VCAT hearing usually takes place.

What you can do

You can ask us to consider how your case is managed. You can apply for:

Information you provide in relation to a case

If you provide information to us in relation to a case we are hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. we are obliged by law to share it with other parties in the case.

Most VCAT files, decisions and hearings are available to the public. If you want to provide information to us in confidence you must first apply for confidentiality

Read more in our practice note on common procedures.

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.