Settle before the hearing

You can still try to resolve the dispute yourselves without going to VCAT.

Even if an application has been made against you, you can still try to resolve the dispute with the other party without going to VCAT. (This doesn’t apply to applications to review a government agency’s decision or professional disciplinary cases in the Review and Regulation and Legal Practice Lists.)  

You can contact the applicant – or they can contact you – to try to come to an agreement (settle) before we make a decision. 

If you make an offer to settle and you want to keep it confidential, make it in writing to the other party and use the words ‘without prejudice’ in your offer.

This means that if your offer isn’t accepted by the other party, it can’t be discussed at the hearing. 

You can try and settle the dispute yourself right up until we make a decision at a hearing. 

If you do settle, everyone involved in the case must let us know.  

Contact us as soon as possible to tell us about the agreement you’ve come to.

Tips on how to settle the dispute 

Trying to come to an agreement could save you the time, stress and the cost of going to a hearing at VCAT. Reaching agreement helps you put the dispute behind you and move on with your life.  

  • Stay calm. You may be upset or offended that there is an application against you. You’re more likely to reach agreement if you stay calm. 
  • Be prepared to negotiate. Think about a range of options or alternatives you would be prepared to accept. Think about the choices and what your ‘bottom line’ really is. 
  • Listen. Listen carefully to the other party so you don’t miss important details. You could also pick up things that will help with your argument. 
  • Watch your tone. Avoid aggressive, offensive language and behaviour. This is not acceptable. 
  • Focus on the outcome. Be clear about what you hope to achieve and ways to get there. 
  • Think about the other party’s position. They have their own interests, just like you do. Compromising and agreeing to some of their interests, as well as satisfying some of yours, may be the best way to an outcome. 

Options to finalise your case after you settle

After you settle, if you’re the applicant you can end your case at VCAT in three ways.

You can ask:

  • to withdraw your application
  • to strike out your case with the right to apply for reinstatement (except in a review of a planning decision) 
  • for consent orders.

If you’ve asked us to review a decision by another government organisation and you withdraw your case, you must follow the organisation’s original decision.

Learn about withdrawing your application about a planning dispute

The difference between withdrawing and a strike out

If you ask to withdraw your case, you can’t make a new application about the same facts and circumstances unless we give you permission to do so.

If you ask us to strike out your case with a right of reinstatement and we agree to it, you have the right to ask us to reinstate the case at a later date. We may give you a timeframe you must ask us within, or put other conditions on this.

You can’t ask for a strike out in a case about reviewing a planning decision

We generally won’t agree to a strike out in a planning and environment review case, as we can’t reinstate a case after a permit has been issued.

If as part of your settlement the other party agrees to pay money or do something, you should ask for your case to be ‘struck out with the right to apply for reinstatement’, not ‘withdrawn’. This is so you can bring the matter back to VCAT if the other party doesn’t do what they agreed.

Confirm your agreement with a consent order

A consent order is a decision or direction by a VCAT member that gives effect to an agreement reached between the parties. 

Read more about consent orders

Related pages

Consent orders

A consent order is a legal document issued by VCAT to confirm an agreement between the parties. 

How to communicate with VCAT and other parties

Understand when and how to communicate with VCAT and any other parties involved in your case.

Change or withdraw your application

To change or withdraw your application, you must let us know in writing.