Common questions

Should I negotiate with the other party before the hearing?

In the normal course, it is a good idea to communicate appropriately with the other party prior to and during the hearing. In many instances, a dispute may be resolved by engaging in polite and reasonable discussions. 

This may particularly be important where you will be in an ongoing relationship with the other party, such as in landlord and tenant disputes. However, there may occasionally be circumstances which make such communication unwise or even unsafe.

Can I have legal representation?

SACAT is designed to enable and encourage parties to represent themselves in hearings. There are special arrangements for legal representation for some types of cases in the community stream.

In a tenancy dispute, generally you cannot be represented by a lawyer except with the Tribunal’s permission. Permission will be only given in exceptional circumstances. The rules may be different for reviews of public and community housing decisions.

In most other types of cases, you are entitled to be represented by legal counsel. Alternatively, if you ask, the Tribunal may allow you to be represented by another person, such as a partner or a relative, at the hearing.

Can I recover my legal costs?

Unless certain circumstances exist, the Tribunal will require that you pay your own legal costs regardless of the outcome of the matter. 

The Tribunal may be more likely to allow the recovery of legal costs where:

  • the factual or legal issues in dispute are necessarily complicated; or

  • where a party has behaved unreasonably in initiating or continuing proceedings or in the way proceedings are conducted.

What if I think another person should be included in this case?

If you think that someone else should be included, you can make an application asking the Tribunal to add this party to the proceedings or to invite them to attend as an interested person. 

Can I attend a hearing by telephone or video hookup?

If you cannot attend a Tribunal hearing in person, you may ask the Tribunal to attend by telephone or video link. As a guide, the more complex the hearing, the more likely it is that the Tribunal will require you attend the hearing in person. Personal attendance is generally preferable. However, if you are in a remote area, that will be taken into account. Speak to a SACAT community access officer on phone 1800 723 767 to request these arrangements.

Can the Tribunal make special arrangements?

You can request that the Tribunal can make special arrangements to account for any physical, mental, cultural or language barriers which you may have. 

For example, if you have trouble understanding English, the Tribunal could provide an interpreter at the hearing.

Include these details in your application, or speak to a SACAT community access officer on 1800 723 767 to request these arrangements.