Determining a case ‘on the papers’

The determination of a proceeding 'on the papers' is a process where VCAT makes a decision on your case based on the written submissions of the parties, without a face-to-face hearing.

All or part of some Planning and Environment cases may be conducted entirely on documents supplied by parties

Types of cases

The Planning and Environment cases which are more suited to determination 'on the papers' are those where there are a limited number of parties, or the issues are limited or confined. But we may consider any cases for determination 'on the papers', including where expert evidence is relied upon.

About the process

Where there is no evidence

The parties must agree on a timetable for providing:

  • written submissions
  • written submissions in reply

Each party must provide its submissions to VCAT and to all other parties.

Where there is evidence

The parties must agree on a timetable for providing:

  • written submissions including any questions for another party's witness
  • written submissions in response, including answers by the other party's witness to the questions
  • written submissions in reply by any party who asked questions of another party’s witness. These submissions must only address the answers provided by the witness.

Each party must provide its submissions to VCAT and to all other parties.

Parties can propose an agreed alternative process appropriate to the proceeding.

Find out how to prepare your submission in a planning dispute


You must pay a hearing fee, just as if you were attending a hearing in person.

Things to consider

When parties consider whether to consent to a determination 'on the papers', it is important to address the following:

  • A proceeding can only be determined 'on the papers' with the agreement of all parties.
  • We require parties to agree on the timing and process.
  • You must comply with VCAT's Practice Note PNPE9 where amended plans are proposed. This must be done before reaching agreement to determine the matter 'on the papers'.
    The agreement to the matter being determined 'on the papers' must be also reached after the time for lodging statements of grounds has passed and must include all parties, including those persons who have become parties by responding to the amended plans.
  • All parties will be given the opportunity to make written submissions, provide expert evidence and make written submissions in reply. A VCAT order will set out the timelines. All submissions, all supporting material and any evidence, will be read and considered by the VCAT member. 
  • If we consider the parties have failed to identify or address a key issue, we will make an order providing the parties with the opportunity to make written submissions addressing the issue.
  • A VCAT member will issue written reasons explaining the decision.

Site inspections

The VCAT member may conduct a site inspection at their discretion.  A party who wants a site inspection should state this in their written submissions, so it can be considered by the member.