Guardianship and Administration

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The assistance of a lawyer will still be useful to most clients to enable them to state their case more clearly to the VCAT Member.  Legal assistance may also facilitate discussions before the hearing with the other parties to the proceedings, which may resolve (or partly resolve) the application before it reaches the hearing stage.  Furthermore, representation is important in ensuring that the client feels that they have 'had their say' and have been heard.  The client is therefore more likely to feel empowered in the process.

In accordance with section 62 of the VCAT Act, a party may be represented by a professional advocate only if they are:

or if:

  • another party to the proceeding is a professional advocate;
  • another party to the proceeding is represented by a professional advocate;
  • all the parties to the proceeding agree; or
  • permitted by VCAT.

In many cases, none of the above scenarios, except the last, will be applicable.  The best approach therefore, if the client has sought representation, is to contact the other parties to the proceeding and seek their consent.  If this fails, then you should seek leave to appear from the VCAT Member at the initial hearing for the matter.  The basis for seeking leave will primarily be that the client is otherwise unable to properly advance their rights under the Guardianship Act without such representation.

It is also worthwhile telephoning the VCAT hearing coordinator as soon as you are representing someone and, if you can estimate the length of the hearing, confirm that estimate in writing.  The usual time allocated for a hearing is 45 minutes.  The application may be rescheduled if it is going to be contested and if the hearing will take longer than 45 minutes.