Housing and Tenancy

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VCAT procedure

As a VCAT advocate it is important to be familiar with sections 97 ('Tribunal must act fairly') and 98 ('general procedure') of the VCAT Act.  These sections should be considered to embody 'guiding principles' about the operations of VCAT.

 97         Tribunal must act fairly

The Tribunal must act fairly and according to the substantial merits of the case in all proceedings.

98         General procedure

                (1)  The Tribunal-

                          (a)  is bound by the rules of natural justice;

                          (b)  is not bound by the rules of evidence or any practices or procedures applicable to courts of record, except to the extent that it adopts those rules, practices or procedures;

                          (c)  may inform itself on any matter as it sees fit;

                          (d)  must conduct each proceeding with as little formality and technicality, and determine each proceeding with as much speed, as the requirements of this Act and the enabling enactment and a proper consideration of the matters before it permit.

                (2)  Without limiting subsection (1)(b), the Tribunal may admit into evidence the contents of any document despite the non-compliance with any time limit or other requirement specified in the rules in relation to that document or service of it.

                (3)  Subject to this Act, the regulations and the rules, the Tribunal may regulate its own procedure.

                (4)  Subsection (1)(a) does not apply to the extent that this Act or an enabling enactment authorises, whether expressly or by implication, a departure from the rules of natural justice.

We note also that section 102 of the VCAT Act is also relevant to fairness considerations at the Tribunal. This section provides that VCAT must allow a party a reasonable opportunity to

  1. call or give evidence
  2. examine, cross-examine or re-examine witnesses; and
  3. to make submissions to the Tribunal[1]

[1] Note this may be refused if the Tribunal considers there is already sufficient evidence of that matter before the Tribunal.