Practice day hearings
Practice day hearings are held only for some planning and environment cases. A VCAT member makes decisions about who can be part of the case, how the dispute should be managed and how much time it will take.
A party or proposed party can ask for a practice day hearing. The order we send you shows if you must come to one.
A practice day hearing may not be the final hearing. It’s a brief hearing, usually no more than 30 minutes.
At the practice day hearing, the VCAT member may:
- give directions about the way the case will proceed
- make a decision about any other related applications made to VCAT, for example an application for a case to be struck out or dismissed, to formally join another party to the case, to substitute plans or amend the application
- clarify the current status of the application
- set dates for parties to send documents
- discuss other issues that aren’t part of the original application if needed
- confirm or change the details in the original order.
We can make a final order to resolve the dispute, or a decision on any legal issues raised.
If you are the applicant, the respondent or someone asking to take part (be a party), it’s important to come so you can have your say about the issues discussed on the day. If you don’t come, VCAT may make a decision or a final order that affects you and can be enforced.
If you are an objector who doesn’t want to be a party, you are welcome to watch but cannot take part in the practice day hearing. If you completed a statement of grounds, the VCAT member will take this into account when making the final decision.
How to ask for a practice day hearing
VCAT can decide to hold a practice day hearing or anyone involved in the dispute can ask for one. This includes people who have not yet formally joined the case but may be affected by its outcome.
Asking for a practice day hearing means you can raise a particular issue before you come to your scheduled hearing day at VCAT.
If someone has applied for a practice day hearing:
- the VCAT member will discuss the issues raised in the application
- if you’ve made the application, the VCAT member will have the documents you sent (for example, your affidavit or statutory declaration) to review.
What to expect at a practice day hearing
The VCAT member uses the practice day hearing to ask questions about the dispute to decide how the case should be managed and make decisions about other applications by people involved in the dispute.
This may mean:
- you’ll be asked questions about the dispute
- the VCAT member may talk to you and the other parties about whether you can resolve the dispute at a compulsory conference
- you’ll be asked about how many witnesses you will bring and what kind of evidence each witness will give
- the VCAT member will talk to you about expert evidence or reports.
The VCAT member may then:
- make orders that documents and other materials must be sent to VCAT and to the other parties by certain dates
- decide if the case should go to a compulsory conference or hearing
- set the date and location for the final hearing if there will be one. If a hearing date is set, this will include an estimate of the number of days the hearing will take and how many members will conduct the hearing.
The VCAT member may make final orders at the practice day hearing if:
- a party in the dispute doesn’t come
- an application for dismissal or strike out is successful
- the VCAT member believes a party is handling the case in a way that unnecessarily disadvantages another party
- all parties submit draft terms for a settlement on the day
- all parties agree to VCAT making a final decision.
The VCAT member does not look in detail at any supporting information you may have prepared for your compulsory conference or final hearing.
How to prepare for a practice day hearing
It’s important to be prepared for the practice day hearing as what you say can help clarify the issues in the dispute.
To get ready for a practice day hearing:
- be ready to answer questions about your application or your response to an application
- tell us about any related applications
- collect documents and supporting information for the specific purpose of the practice day hearing
- write down the witnesses you will call to support your case, what you would like the VCAT member to do or decide for the dispute
- bring draft terms of settlement if the case is likely to be settled by consent on the day
- be ready to take notes during the hearing. If you plan to use a laptop or other electronic device to do this, do not record the hearing unless you have permission.
What you can't bring
For safety reasons, you cannot bring into our venues:
- weapons and any other items that could be used as a weapon
- any sharp items (e.g. manicure sets, table knives, forks and scissors)
- harmful substances and chemicals
- glass bottles and any other glass objects
- tools (eg. stanley knives, box cutters).
You will be searched and scanned by security when you enter.
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.
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.
If you need support to attend, for example an interpreter or accessibility assistance, contact us.
At the practice day hearing
Practice day hearings are held from 10am each Friday, unless we give you another time and date. This means there are many hearings listed for the same time, so it’s important to come to VCAT on time and be ready.
You can check the time and location of your practice day hearing after 4.30pm the day before. See Upcoming hearings.
If you decide to have a legal or professional representative, this person could be a lawyer, town planner or someone else with a good understanding of the dispute.
Even if you have a legal or professional representative, it’s a good idea to come to a practice day hearing in person.
In the hearing room
Everyone must be respectful and polite:
- call the member 'Member'. They will let you know if you need to use another title, like Deputy President Smith
- switch your mobile phone off or to silent
- remove hats and sunglasses
- water is provided
- do not record any part of the practice day hearing without permission, for example, take photos or make audio or video recordings.
Prepare your submission for the hearing
Before your planning dispute is heard at VCAT, you’ll need to prepare a submission.
If a permit applicant makes changes to their plans before the hearing, find out what this means.