What VCAT does
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) provides fair, efficient and affordable justice for the Victorian community. We do this by making decisions about a wide range of cases or by helping people to resolve disputes.
Types of cases
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There are other organisations that may be able to help.
At VCAT, our role is to provide fair, affordable justice. We do this by helping people to reach an agreement and settle their case, or we make a decision at a hearing that everyone involved (parties) must follow.
Our role is to be neutral. This means our staff and members can’t provide legal advice about your personal situation or favour one party over another. We have a responsibility to treat everyone fairly based on the facts and the law.
What to expect at VCAT
At VCAT you can present your case yourself, without a lawyer. However coming to VCAT is a legal process and depending on the type of case, it can be a good idea to get legal advice or information first.
There are things you will need to do, for example, prepare evidence and get ready to negotiate or present your case at a hearing.
If you want a lawyer to represent you, find out more about legal and professional representation at VCAT.
Who else can help you before VCAT
We can help you understand how to apply and what happens next. We can’t give you legal advice, tell you if you’re likely to win, or tell you how to present your case. These organisations may be able to help you.
How long it takes
The time it takes to come to VCAT and get an outcome depends on your type of case and how complex it is.
For a simple residential tenancies case, you may come to VCAT and get a decision in under four weeks. Other cases will take longer, and if a case is complex, you may come to VCAT a number of times and a decision may take a number of months and sometimes years.
When you apply to VCAT we send you a notice telling you how long we think your case will take.
We also tell you about estimated timeframes for your application when you apply. Select Apply to VCAT, your case type and answer a few short questions.
How much it costs
Our fees are set by the Victorian Government and are usually lower than the cost of going to court.
If you are applying to VCAT there may be an application fee, hearing fees and other fees involved in presenting your case.
If you are facing financial hardship you may be eligible for fee relief.
If a lawyer or other professional helps you, you must arrange and pay them – we do not do this for you.
At VCAT each party usually pays their own legal costs unless we decide it is fair to make an order for costs. Even if your case is successful, you don’t usually have your costs paid by the other party.
Support services at VCAT
Most of our hearing locations are accessible.
Family violence support
VCAT has a family violence support worker to help you at VCAT.
If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, we have a dedicated Koori Support team.
VCAT has a number of security measures to ensure the people who enter our buildings feel safe.
Legal and professional representation
If you want to use a lawyer or other professional, you need to understand if and how you can have one.
Other organisations that may help
We can’t give you legal advice, but there are other organisations you can speak to about your dispute.
Our fair hearing obligation
The obligation to provide a fair hearing is an important part of VCAT’s role and applies to everything we do.