This information is useful for legal practitioners - see Preparing for a hearing for general advice.
Appearing in SACAT can be very different to appearing in a court.
You don't need to robe to appear in SACAT.
Checking in at reception and calling on matters
When you arrive at SACAT, you will need to approach the reception desk and register your arrival.
This is so the Tribunal Member can see, via our online case management system, which parties have arrived for the hearing.
As the hearing rooms at SACAT have limited seating, you will not be able to enter the hearing room prior to your matter being called.
The Member, the Member Support Officer, or if the matter is heard by the President, the President’s Associate, will call on the matter by announcing the parties’ names loudly in the foyer. At that point, parties may enter the hearing room.
Conduct in hearings
When entering the hearing room, you are not required to bow to the presiding member. This is the case whether the matter is being heard by an Ordinary Member, an Senior Member or the President.
The Tribunal Member has broad discretion in how they will run the hearing of a matter. The aim is always to run a hearing in accordance with the objects of the SACAT Act, which are to:
- keep costs to a minimum
- be accessible and responsive to the parties’ needs
- process and resolve disputes as quickly as possible
- use language that is easy to understand
- be as flexible as possible
- promote the best principles of public administration, including independence, natural justice and procedural fairness, quality and consistent decisions, and transparency and accountability.
Ordinary Tribunal Members should be referred to as ‘Member X’ the first time you speak to them, and Mr or Ms X every subsequent time.
If you appear before a Senior Member, they should be referred to as Senior Member X the first time, and Mr or Ms X every subsequent time.
You should always refer to the President of the Tribunal as President Hughes when her Honour is sitting in her capacity as the President of the Tribunal.
Anything that parties wish to rely on as evidence should be sent to the Tribunal and to the other party electronically prior to the hearing.
If it is not possible to provide the documents or evidence prior to the hearing, it may be tendered during the hearing.
Where possible, provide all evidence in a form that can be easily scanned so it can be uploaded to our case management system.
SACAT is generally a no costs jurisdiction.
In certain circumstances, the Tribunal may make an order for a party to pay all or any of the costs of another party or person required to appear before the Tribunal in a matter. See s 57 of the SACAT Act.
SACAT may also make an order that all or any of the costs of proceedings be paid by a party. See SACAT Act, s 91 and SACAT Regulations, s 11.
Delivery of decisions
It is very common for Tribunal Members to deliver their decision and reasons ex tempore, at the conclusion of a hearing. A document will then be emailed to parties containing the order.
- In Housing, Administrative and Disciplinary matters, the order will contain findings and reasons.
- In Community matters, the document will only contain the order and a very simple summary of the factual findings.
Where a Member reserves his or her decision, the decision and order will be emailed to parties.
You will not need to attend at the Tribunal for delivery of the decision. Decisions are finalised and sent to parties without notice.
Some decisions of significance are selected to be published to AustLII.
Drafts and orders
Tribunal Members use templates in the online case management system to compile their orders. This means you will not need to come prepared with drafts.
However, if the parties are seeking consent orders, it may be helpful to provide draft orders.