Guide to Parties - What to Expect at a Conference and Immediate Determination
What is it?
A Conference and Immediate Determination is where you will do the following things:
- Come to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) for a conference; and
- See if you can reach an agreement with the other party at the conference; and
- If no agreement is reached, the case will go to a hearing before a Member, usually on the same day.
What to expect at the conference?
At a conference, you get a chance to tell your side of the case. You get to talk about the issues in dispute. The aim is, where possible, for you to come to an agreement with the other side about how the case should be resolved.
The convenor of the conference will:
- guide and assist discussion and ask you and the other side questions;
- seek to identify and limit what is in dispute; and
- assist parties to work towards an agreed outcome. At a conference, a convenor will not make the decision for you. It is for you and the other party to see if the case can resolve by agreement.
What happens next?
If you reach an agreement, the convenor will make consent orders. These are binding orders and it will finalise your case. If no agreement is reached, the convenor will refer the case to a different Member to proceed to a hearing for immediate determination. The case will usually go to a hearing on the same day (an immediate determination).
What is a hearing?
A hearing is where the parties have a chance to present their case before the ACAT. As a party, you will be able to present your side of the case based on any relevant information and arguments you have prepared.
What happens at the hearing?
A hearing at the ACAT usually happens as follows:
- The ACAT Member will ask the person making the claim (the applicant) to give their side of the story first.
- During this time, the applicant may present to the ACAT any documents or witnesses they see as being relevant.
- The ACAT Member may have questions for the applicant or any of the applicant’s witnesses.
- The other party (the respondent) will also be able to ask questions of the witness or make objections.
- The respondent will then be asked to give their side of the story.
- During this time, the respondent may present to the ACAT any documents or witnesses they see as being relevant.
- The applicant will also be able to ask questions of the witness or make objections.
- After hearing all the evidence, the ACAT Member will often make a decision on the same day. Sometimes, a Member may need to reserve his or her decision, and give a decision on another day.
What can I do if I cannot attend?
If you cannot attend a Conference and Immediate Determination, you should request an adjournment. There is information about how to do this at: www.acat.act.gov.au.
Before you ask ACAT if your case can be adjourned, you should seek the views of the other party. You will be notified if your adjournment request is granted. Unless you hear otherwise from the ACAT, the Conference and Immediate Determination will be going ahead.
What happens if I do not attend?
If you do not attend a Conference and Immediate Determination, this may mean:
- If you are the applicant, your matter may be dismissed; and
- If you are the respondent, orders may be made against you in your absence.
- If you decide to get legal advice or representation, do this early.
- Consider early whether you want to bring a support person, and any arrangements you may need to make.
- Read your paperwork from the Tribunal carefully. You need to prepare your case before you come, and provide any documentation, including witness statements, to the Tribunal and the other party by the due date.
- Before the Conference and Immediate Determination, think about what you want and what you might agree to: remember there is a conference prior to the hearing and this is your chance to reach a settlement.
- You can authorise someone to appear on your behalf, but you must fill in a Power of Attorney form: http://www.acat.act.gov.au/applications_and_forms.
- If you are going to attend for a corporation, you must fill in the Authority to Act for a Corporation form: http://www.acat.act.gov.au/applications_and_forms.
- On the day of the Conference and Immediate Determination, allow plenty of time for car parking and bring all your documents, including the paperwork sent to you by the Tribunal and anything sent to you by any other parties.
- If you have any witnesses, it is your responsibility to check with them to make sure they can attend a hearing. They can give evidence by telephone if they cannot attend in person.
How do I contact the Tribunal?
The Registry Counter is open for general enquiries between 9.00am and 4.30pm, each weekday. However, the Counter cannot accept payment of money (filing fees, payments etc) after 4.00pm on any day.
ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal
ACT Health Building
Level 4, 1 Moore Street
Canberra City ACT
GPO Box 370
CANBERRA ACT 2601
If you call the ACAT and your call isn’t answered it’s because staff are busy assisting others.
If you let the line continue ringing you’ll be given an option to leave a voice message, it’s important that this is done so that tribunal staff can return your call.
Please leave the following information:
- your full name
- contact telephone number
- an email address
- case number (if you have one)
- the nature of your enquiry
Your call will be returned as soon as possible.
You can also email the Tribunal at firstname.lastname@example.org