Fast track mediation and hearing
VCAT and the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria provide fast track mediation and hearing service for goods and services disputes up to $10,000.
Goods and services disputes up to $10,000
To help you resolve your goods and services dispute as quickly as possible, VCAT and the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria provide a fast track service.
If the amount in dispute is between $500 and $10,000, you may be invited to attend a mediation. This is an opportunity to resolve your dispute by talking through the issues with the other people involved, assisted by a mediator from the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria or VCAT.
If you cannot resolve your dispute at mediation, you go to a VCAT hearing within a few hours. At the hearing, a VCAT member makes a decision about the case. You do not have to pay hearing fees for this same-day service.
How it works
A mediator contacts you
If we think your dispute is suitable, a mediator from the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria contacts you to discuss the process. The Dispute Settlement Centre is a state-wide dispute resolution service for both community and civil disputes.
If you agree to take part, we set a time and place for you and the other people involved to come to VCAT.
How long it takes
The mediation takes up to one hour but allow five hours on the day in case your dispute goes to a hearing. If you cannot resolve the dispute at the mediation, you go to a VCAT hearing within a few hours.
At the mediation
The mediator helps you talk with the other people involved, to see if you can resolve some or all of the issues. They confirm the outcome of the mediation with VCAT but do not disclose what was discussed or decided by the parties.
If your dispute goes to a hearing
A VCAT member listens to submissions and evidence, and makes a decision either at the end of the hearing or in writing afterwards.
Preparing for fast track mediation and hearing
Who can come with you
You need to ask VCAT's permission to have a lawyer or professional representative, so be prepared to present your own case.
You can bring someone for support, such as a family member or friend, but they cannot usually speak on your behalf.
The mediator decides on the day who is present in the mediation room and how they take part.
If your case goes to a hearing, the VCAT member has final say on who takes part in the hearing.
Be clear about what you want
You need to be ready to explain the details and how you think it could be settled.
Be ready to discuss and answer questions about:
- the outcome you want
- the facts of your case (what happened, when, what you did, what the other party did).
Make sure you carefully read the other party's supporting documents so that you understand their claim and can respond to it. If you are the respondent, this includes the application.
Prepare information and supporting documents
Gather all the information and documents you need to present your best possible case.
If you are the applicant, you must bring a copy of your application. You will also need to send us a completed Declaration of Service at least one week before your hearing to show that you sent the application and your supporting documents to the respondent.
If you are a respondent, you will need to respond to the claim.
If you cannot attend the hearing and have arranged someone to attend in your place, they need to bring your written authority to make decisions on your behalf.
If you're attending by phone or videoconference
Make sure you’re ready for your phone or videoconference hearing at the allocated time or within the allocated timeframe. If you’re not available for the hearing, orders may be made against you.
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.
Attend by phone
We tell you whether you need to call us or we will call you.
If we call you, we may use a phone number with a 02 prefix and you must accept to join the hearing.
Attend by videoconference
Videoconferences are held using an application called Zoom on your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.
Etiquette for phone and videoconference hearings
- Turn off or eliminate background noise and distractions. Use headphones if possible.
- It’s an offence to record any part of a VCAT proceeding without permission (Court Security Act 1980). Do not record the hearing.
- All VCAT hearings, including phone and videoconference hearings, are recorded.
- It’s important you email any documents or evidence you want 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.
- To avoid disruption, parties and their legal representatives should not be in the same room if they intend to use separate devices to join their VCAT videoconference hearing as this can create feedback and/or sound distortion.
Accessibility and support services
Tell us if you need support to attend, such as interpreters, security, family violence support, hearing and speech assistance, audiovisual equipment, wheelchair access and other accessibility assistance.