A conference is an opportunity for people involved in a dispute to meet face to face and discuss the issues to reach an agreement.

This process might take more than one meeting and more information may be needed.

How a conference works

Conferences are usually conducted in private. Usually you will sit around a table and talk about the dispute.

A Tribunal Member (TM) or Deputy Registrar (DR) will guide your discussions and tell you more about what to expect, including:

  • how formal the conference is
  • your behaviour and involvement
  • about their role

They are not an advisor or advocate for any of the parties and will not impose a decision on you - reaching an agreement is up to you.

They will usually ask questions to clarify the issues and identify what you agree on. They may speak to each party separately about possible ways to resolve the dispute.

It is important you attend the conference in person.

  • If you live outside the metropolitan area you may attend by telephone or video.
  • If there are other reasons you can't attend in person, you need to get SACAT’s permission before the conference. Contact us for information on how to apply.

If you need an interpreter, SACAT will provide one (make sure to include this in your application).

An advocate or support person may also be allowed to help you in some circumstances.

You should lodge any relevant documents or materials with SACAT before the conference. When you attend the conference, make sure you bring these as well as any extra documents.

Everyone involved in the conference must act in good faith and make a genuine effort to participate and resolve the dispute.

If you obstruct or delay the process, don't attend the conference or fail to follow a Rule or Order of SACAT, you may have a decision made against you.

Anything said and done cannot be relied on or referred to in other proceedings, except with the consent of all parties.

Agreements

An agreement must be consistent with the law and one that everyone can live with.

Any agreement reached is binding on the parties and will be recorded by SACAT. An Order will then be made by SACAT that reflects the agreement.

If you have not reached an agreement within a reasonable time, the TM/DR has the power to end the conference. The dispute will likely then be referred to a hearing.

Further hearings

If the dispute is not completely resolved, it will be referred to a hearing.

A different Tribunal Member will conduct this hearing.

The hearing will most often be on a different day, but in some cases,it can be on the same day. Generally, the hearing will not take into account anything said at the conference.