If you can’t come to VCAT

Missing your date with VCAT means you won’t get the chance to have your say in the dispute, and VCAT may make a decision that affects you. Understand what your options are if you can’t come.

The date you must come to VCAT is shown on the notice we send you. If you can’t come to VCAT on that date, you have three options:

Ask to attend by phone

If it’s difficult for you, your representative or a witness to come to VCAT in person, you can apply to attend by phone.

If you are attending a directions hearing, it may be possible to attend by phone if the hearing is very short.

For all other VCAT hearings, it’s better for you to come in person. We only allow you to attend by phone if there are serious circumstances and it’s suitable for your case. We usually don’t allow it for mediations or compulsory conferences.

Serious circumstances include:

  • you live in the country or interstate
  • you have a disability
  • you have concerns for your safety.

If you want to attend by phone, you need to apply to VCAT at least two business days before your hearing.

Apply to change the date

In exceptional circumstances, you can apply to change the date (adjourn). Complete the adjournment application form and send it to us no later than:

  • two business days before a directions hearing, mediation or compulsory conference
  • five business days before a hearing.

You must have a very good reason you can’t come and you must ask for the consent of the other parties in the case.

VCAT may not agree to change the date, even if every person involved in the case agrees.

Don’t assume the date has changed. Your hearing will go ahead as originally planned, unless we contact you to confirm a new date and time.

Cases can’t be adjourned indefinitely.

Download the form to ask to change the date

Get someone to come in your place

You can ask someone like a partner or friend, to come to VCAT in your place.

This is different from having a legal or professional representative.

The person coming in your place must:

  • have detailed knowledge of the issues in your case
  • bring a letter from you giving them authority to speak for you and make decisions on your behalf, including agreeing to settle
  • be prepared to deal with any issues that come up
  • be able to enter into negotiations for you.

If you need to give evidence as a witness, the person coming in your place cannot do this for you.

If a company is a party, it must appoint someone (an agent) to come to VCAT. This person must:

  • bring written authority signed by a director of the company, unless they are a director of the company
  • have personal knowledge of the issues.

Sample written authority to represent a party

Use this as template to give authority to your advocate to represent you at VCAT.

Jill Smith (or ABC Pty Ltd, if a company), a party in the VCAT case reference number xxxxx/20xx, applies to be represented by an agent at the hearing. The agent’s name is John Smith (insert occupation and add 'employed by the company' if a company).

The agent has sufficient knowledge of the issues in dispute and is vested with sufficient authority to bind the party.

Date xx/xx/xx

Signed:______________ Name:______________ Position:______________

Related pages

Change a hearing date (adjournment)

A change to the date of a directions hearing, mediation, compulsory conference or hearing is called an ‘adjournment’.

Reviews and rehearings

If you or your representative had a reasonable excuse for not attending the hearing, you may be able to apply to have your case reviewed and reheard.

Organisations that may help

Find out what you need to do after you get a hearing notice or message from VCAT.