Civil Claims List

What is VCAT?

- VCAT is an organization which aims to provide Victorians with an efficient and accessible dispute resolution service. VCAT is divided into three divisions, civil, administrative and human rights. The Civil Claims List is part of the Civil Division.

The Civil Claims List

The Civil Claims list hears disputes relating to trade and commerce; goods you bought or sold, services you hired someone to perform or services you were hired to perform.

Sample Case:

Alice hires Bob to build a fence around her property, and pays an advance of $800, and will pay an additional $4,000 when the fence is completed. Bob starts work on the proposed date, but abandons the job after the fence is partially constructed.

As the compensation being sought cannot be over $10,000 because Alice is only paying $4,800, this dispute is more appropriate for the Civil Claims List than the Magistrates Court.

Parties wanting to have their dispute heard in the Civil Claims List have to, fill out this application and pay the relevant fees. Before submitting the application, the applicant has to make sure they have:

  • Paid/arranged for fees to be paid.
  • Provided the respondent’s current address
  • Provided the ABN (Australian Business Number) of the person or people they have a dispute with, in this case Bob.
  • Provided reason for the claim
  • Kept a copy of the application

In this case the relevant fee is $38.80 as the amount being sought is under $10,000.

Directional Hearing

Within eleven months from the application being made, the case will be listed for hearing.

The applicant and respondent will then have to attend a directions hearing conducted by a VCAT member. The purpose of this hearing is to establish how many witnesses both parties will call and estimate how many hearings will be needed to reach a resolution. The Member may try to mediate and present alternate dispute resolution methods.

Both parties must be present at this hearing, in person or through a lawyer or another representative.

At this hearing the Member will make directions, and copies of the directions will be handed out to the parties. The directions will contain the date by which all parties have to prepare relevant evidence, it will also contain the date/s of the actual hearing.

Hearing/s that decide your case

VCAT resolves disputes based on the evidence presented at the actual hearing. The best evidence is considered to be evidence given verbally by the parties and their witnesses. Repeating what someone else said or is able to say, without having that person present at the court, is not good enough to be considered evidence. Parties have to ensure they have all evidence with them on the date of the hearing.

If a resolution cannot be reached at the end of scheduled hearings, further hearings will be scheduled.

At the end of a successful hearing, the Member will make orders, and all parties must follow them.

Enforcing an order

In some cases it is possible that VCAT will not order the payment of money, but some other remedy.

In the sample case it is possible that a VCAT Member will order Bob to complete the fence.

If Bob does not resume work on the fence, Alice can have the order enforced through the Supreme Court, if VCAT certifies the case is appropriate for filing in the Supreme Court. To do this Alice needs to:

  • A certified copy of VCAT’s orders
  • An affidavit of non-compliance with the orders
  • A certificate from a VCAT Member that the case is appropriate for filing through the Supreme Court.