When VCAT starts a case

When VCAT opens a case, this means the start of a legal process. Find out what your responsibilities are.

Is this page for you?

If you’re involved in a dispute about planning, land valuation or environment and resources, this page is not for you. 

For information to help you see:

This page is for all other cases.

What we do when we start a case

When we receive an application and the correct fee, we first assess it to make sure the law allows us to deal with the dispute or case type. If we can accept the application we:

    Give your case a reference number

    We give your case a unique reference number. You can find this number on any letter we send you. Use this number whenever you contact us by phone or in writing.

    Send you and all parties involved in the case a notice

    You get a notice that gives you the date, time and location you need to come to VCAT. The notice explains what you need to do next. 

    You may be required to go to a directions hearing, preliminary hearing, practice day hearing, fast-track mediationmediationcompulsory conference or final hearing

    You may come in person, or you may attend VCAT by phone or videoconference.

    VCAT support services

    We offer a range of support services to ensure all Victorians can access us. These include interpreters, disability support, family violence support and Koori support. If you need support ask for it as early as possible before you come to VCAT.

    Find a support service

    What you need to do

    From the start of your case at VCAT, there are things you must do and decisions to make to get a timely outcome.

    Give us the information we need

    Check the letters, emails or notices you get from us carefully. Follow the instructions we give you so we can resolve your case and avoid delays.

    To make the process fair to all parties, it’s your responsibility to act honestly and not knowingly give false or misleading information to us. You must make sure that you identify the right parties in your dispute and provide the information we ask for, including contact details.

    Without this information, VCAT can not enforce a decision.

    Share your documents with the other parties

    We tell you the date you must come to VCAT in the notice we send you. We also ask you to share your application and all the documents you plan to use in the case with the other parties.

    If you are attending by phone or video you must also send your supporting documents to VCAT. This is to make sure that the other parties know what the case is about.

    Make sure you share your documents or the case may be delayed.

    Find out how to send documents

    Treat VCAT and the other parties with respect

    VCAT has a duty to make sure everyone who is part of a VCAT case gets a fair hearing.

    To do this, all parties and their representatives must participate in VCATs processes in a responsible way so that VCAT can make sure the hearing is fair.

    As a party or representative you must:

    • treat VCAT and the other parties/representatives with courtesy and respect at all times
    • act honestly and not knowingly give false or misleading information to VCAT
    • follow all rulings and directions VCAT makes.

    Learn more about your role in our fair hearing obligation

    Other things you can do

    You can ask us to consider how your case is managed. You can apply for: 

    Your privacy at VCAT

    Most VCAT files, hearings and decisions are open to the public and media, unless we order otherwise.

    If you give us information for a case we’re hearing, we’re obliged by law to share it with other parties in the case. If you want to provide information to us in confidence you must first apply for confidentiality.

    Find out more about privacy at VCAT

    Related pages

    How to communicate with VCAT and other parties

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

    End a case by dismissal or strike out

    When you respond to an application against you, you can ask for VCAT to dismiss a case or end it in a strike out.

    Prepare to come to VCAT

    It’s important to prepare for your hearing day. There are documents to organise and decisions to make so you’re ready to present the best case possible.