Hearings ‘on the papers’

A hearing 'on the papers' is a process where a VCAT member makes a decision on your case based on written submissions of the parties, without you needing to attend.

Some cases may be decided based entirely on documents supplied by parties, particularly about residential tenanciesplanning and environment and owners corporations

If your case is about a different type of dispute and we think it can be heard ‘on the papers’, we let all parties know.

We decide if your case is suited to a hearing 'on the papers'. You can object to your case being heard ‘on the papers’.

For a hearing ‘on the papers’ to be as fair as a hearing in person, there are things you must do.

Types of cases suitable for a hearing 'on the papers'

Residential tenancies cases

We decide some cases about bond between residential rental providers (landlords) and renters (tenants) 'on the papers'. We may decide other types of cases this way in the future.

If we think your case is appropriate to hear on the papers, we'll send you a form and tell you what to do next.

Planning and environment cases

Refer to our Planning and environment hearing 'on the papers' fact sheet

Owners corporations cases

Fee recovery applications are most suited to hearings ‘on the papers’, which owners corporations apply for to recover unpaid fees owed by lot owners. We usually schedule these types of cases for a hearing 'on the papers' automatically.

When we decide to have a hearing 'on the papers'

If we tell you your case will be decided 'on the papers', it will take place in this way unless one of the parties objects and we are satisfied their objection is reasonable.

If you want to object

If you want to object to the case being decided 'on the papers' you must do this in writing to VCAT and to the other parties. Check the order or instructions we send you to find out if there is a date you must object by. You need to explain why you're objecting in writing.

If we don't consider the objection to be reasonable, we may decide the case based on the documents we have. This includes any documents we asked the parties to provide.

If we are satisfied an objection is reasonable, the hearing is held by phone or videoconference on a date and time we set. We may not be able to give you a hearing date immediately.

How a hearing 'on the papers' works

  1. Each party must send its submissions, supporting material and evidence to VCAT and to all other parties as set out in the order we give you.
  2. The VCAT member reads and considers all submissions, supporting material and evidence.
  3. If the VCAT member doesn’t have everything they need, the parties may be ordered to produce more documents.
  4. If the VCAT member decides it isn’t an appropriate matter to decide ‘on the papers’ they may adjourn (postpone) the case to a phone or videoconference hearing.
  5. If the VCAT member holds a hearing ‘on the papers’, VCAT sends the decision with findings to all parties in a written order.

Read more about VCAT decisions

What you need to do – residential tenancy cases

We will send you the 'On the Papers - Residential Tenancies Form'. Complete and send a copy to VCAT and to the other party in your case.

There are documents you need to provide with the form.

All parties

Include a copy of the following documents when sending the completed form to VCAT and other parties:

  • any supporting documents you want VCAT to consider
  • proof that you have emailed or posted your supporting documents to the other parties.
  • a written statement setting out what you want to say about the case.

If you're a rental provider (landlord)

You must also include a copy of the following documents when sending your application to VCAT and other parties:

  • a summary of proofs if you're applying for bond
  • if your claim is about rent, a copy of the rental ledger
  • if your claim relates to damage or cleaning, copies of the incoming and outgoing condition reports, and invoices or receipts for works done
  • if the claim is about a renter (tenant) breaking a fixed term agreement (lease), a copy of the agreement and of any notices of intention to vacate given by the renter (tenant).

How to send your documents

When sending these documents, organise your evidence according to these guidelines: How to send and access evidence in a residential tenancy case.

Email rentingonthepapers@vcat.vic.gov.au, and include your VCAT reference number and hearing date in the email subject line.

What you need to do – owners corporation cases

If you’re the applicant you have an opportunity to give us a summary of proofs and fee notices.

If you’re the respondent you can give us a defence and any other documents to support your case. 

The order tells you what documents and submissions all parties must send in writing to each other and to VCAT and when.

Send VCAT a copy of your supporting documents to civil@vcat.vic.gov.au, and include your VCAT reference number and hearing date in the subject line of the email. 

If you communicate with VCAT by post or email, you must also send a copy to all other parties.

You can tell us you have sent copies to other parties by including them in the CC field on an email, or note them as a CC on a letter.

What you need to do – Planning and environment cases

Refer to our Planning and environment hearing 'on the papers' fact sheet.