The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has temporarily adjusted its practices and procedures in response to COVID-19.
There will be no in-person hearings until lockdown provisions have been lifted. Matters will proceed by audio visual link (AVL) or telephone if possible.
If you would like to make enquiries about your hearing you can contact the registry on 1300 006 228.
Any further changes to the Tribunal’s services will be announced on the Tribunal’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) web page.
Making an Application to the Tribunal
If you have a dispute with your landlord, housing provider or land lease community operator, consider making an Application to the Tribunal for an independent, legally binding decision. Refer to our general factsheet on the Tribunal for the kinds of application you can make and the time limits you should observe.
During COVID-19, parties are encouraged to make Applications online. If this is not possible, you can still download the Application from the Tribunal website and lodge it at Services NSW. Depending on the Tribunal’s caseload, it may take weeks before a matter is listed for hearing. If you require an urgent hearing, you should complete the Tribunal Application and attach to it a written request for an urgent hearing clearly indicating either your email or phone number for urgent contact. You will need to explain why an urgent hearing is required. The Tribunal may or may not allow the expedited hearing.
Always check with the Tribunal registry whether your Application or other request or correspondence have been received. Once you lodge your Application, you should receive an email or letter with a Tribunal file number and further directions about the timetabling of your case. There are seven Registries across the State: Sydney, Liverpool, Parramatta, Newcastle, Penrith, Tamworth and Wollongong. The Registry that is handling your case will be noted at the bottom of the Tribunal’s letterhead. You can find contact details for each registry here.
Notice of Hearing and Directions
When an Application is made to the Tribunal, a Notice of Hearing and Directions will be sent out to the parties by the Tribunal either in email (if this is provided) or letter to the address nominated in the Application. The Applicant is the party making the Application and the Respondent is the party responding to the Application.
This Notice will contain important information including: the date and time of the hearing and timetabling of your case, including deadlines by which a party must file all the material that they intend to rely on at the hearing.
All listings for hearings are published on the Tribunal website. You can look up the Hearing List at the assigned Tribunal Registry. These lists provide details of hearings in the Tribunal’s Consumer and Commercial Division that are scheduled over the following 14 days.
Filing your evidence
Read the Tribunal directions carefully. You must comply with these directions including any specific instructions about how your evidence should be presented, such as using coloured photographs or ordering and numbering every page.
If you do not comply with the directions/deadline, the Tribunal may decide not to consider your material. If you need further time to lodge your material or to respond to an Application made against you, you should make a written request for extra time to the Tribunal.
A list of all the Tribunal Registries and their contact details are below.
As a rule of procedural fairness, you must serve on the other party the same (and all) documents you file with the Tribunal. This can be done by copying both the Tribunal and the other party in the email.
The Tribunal has a financial impact statement form which you can fill out carefully and attach any relevant material.
During a phone hearing
Many Tribunal hearings are now being conducted over the phone, although some hearings may be conducted by audio-visual linkup using Microsoft Teams. You will receive the Notice of Hearing specifying the date and time for hearing and the phone number and ID code if you need to phone into the hearing room. You can also check the Hearing List on the Tribunal website.
Some hearings are Group List hearings, which means that there are multiple matters that are listed to be heard by a single Tribunal Member one at a time in one room. You will need to phone into the hearing using the phone number and ID code provided by NCAT. These details will be provided on the Notice of Hearing and are also available on the Hearing List on the Tribunal website.
You might be asked by the Tribunal to provide you number so that the Tribunal can call you for the hearing. It is important to provide the correct phone number for the Tribunal to ring you. If your number has changed or you are not sure, check and confirm with the Registry, preferably two working days before your hearing.
Tribunal hearings can run late (or early), so be prepared to answer the phone in the two-hour (as a guide) window from the time of your hearing. If you do not answer the phone, it is likely that the Tribunal may make orders in your absence. If you do not get a call from the Tribunal during the listed time, ring Registry to check if the Tribunal is running late.
If both parties have supplied all of their evidence at the date of the first hearing, the Tribunal may proceed to deal with the matter. In practice, the duration of hearings can vary. You can check how much time your matter has been allocated by looking up the Hearing List at the assigned Tribunal Registry.
It is possible that your matter will take more than one hearing to resolve, particularly if there is some complexity to the matter or a lot of issues to consider. The parties should continue to negotiate and try to resolve the dispute outside of the hearing.
If you believe that the Tribunal has not properly reviewed your material or adequately considered your matter, raise this before the end of the hearing and ask the Tribunal Member for written reasons of their decision. For more information about challenging a decision, refer to our general factsheet on the Tribunal.
If you are unable to attend the hearing due to illness, contact the assigned Tribunal Registry. You may be able to authorise someone to represent you or to have the matter adjourned. Please see the Tribunal’s hearing FAQs for further information on this.
There are currently no in-person NCAT hearings.
In response to the latest COVID-19 health advice, face masks are now compulsory in all NCAT premises
For more information on the COVID-19 measures adopted by NCAT please see here.
Thanks to the Inner Sydney Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service at Redfern Legal Centre for providing initial research and drafting of this section.