An expert report is a written report from an expert that a party uses as evidence in a VCAT case.
The expert must provide an impartial opinion based on their area of expertise. They must make an oath that their report is written to the best of their knowledge and expertise.
Any party in a VCAT case can organise and submit an expert report as evidence. For example:
- a person involved in a dispute about house renovations may ask a building consultant to provide an expert report
- in a planning case, a party (including objectors) may ask for a report from an arborist or heritage architect.
The expert is then expected to come to VCAT to discuss their report and answer any questions from us or the other parties.
For more details about what you must include in an expert report, read Practice Note – Expert evidence (PNVCAT2).
When and who to give copies to
Give a copy to VCAT and the other parties. We may tell you in an order or in the notice when we expect you to give the report to VCAT and to the other parties.
If we don’t give you a date, you should make sure VCAT receives a copy of your evidence at least 10 business days before the hearing, or we may not accept it as evidence. You must send a hard copy of the report to us by post.
Make sure you have the original copy of your expert report with you when you attend the hearing.
The expert is generally expected to come to the hearing to explain key elements of the report. It allows the member and the parties to ask questions about the report. We tell you if we don’t expect the expert to attend, or you can ask us if they need to come to VCAT.
What to include in an expert report
All expert reports must have:
- the name and address of the expert
- confirmation that the expert has read the Practice Note – Expert evidence (PNVCAT2)
- the expert's qualifications, experience and area of expertise
- a statement that explains why the expert is qualified to make the report
- reference to any personal or professional relationship between the expert witness and the party who paid for the report
- all instructions that define the scope of the report (original and supplementary and whether in writing or oral)
- all facts, assumptions and other information used as a basis for the expert's opinion
- state the source of anything the expert reads, considers or uses when they write the report
- name and qualifications of any person who carried out tests the expert relied on
- a summary that includes:
- the expert's opinion
- reference to any opinions that haven’t been well researched and why they haven’t been
- any questions the expert has about the dispute that isn’t in their area of expertise
- an explanation about whether the report is incomplete or limited in scope in any way
- signature from the expert with the following declaration:
'I have made all the inquiries that I believe are desirable and appropriate and that no matters of significance which I regard as relevant have to my knowledge been withheld from the Tribunal.'
All expert reports should have a cover page, which includes:
- the VCAT reference number
- date of the report
- if the report is about a person, the name of that person
- if the report is about a property, the address of that property and the date of any inspection
- the name of the person the report has been prepared for
- the name of the person the expert received their instructions from.
For building disputes
An expert should include reasons and the likely costs involved if they recommend to fix, demolish or alter a building in any way. The expert should state whether there are any other reasonable alternatives to complete or fix the building.
The cover page should include the address of the property and any inspection dates
Evidence helps you prove your side of the story and helps the VCAT member to decide how the matter should be resolved.
On hearing day
Hearings are where all parties present their case, ask questions and provide evidence. VCAT makes a decision to resolve the dispute, for example by ordering one party to pay another party.