If you disagree with a decision the TAC has made on your claim, you can request a Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (VCAT) review within 12 months of the day you become aware of the decision. You can do this:
- Instead of using the informal review or dispute resolution processes; or
- If you are not satisfied with the outcome of one or both of these processes.
There is a government fee of $637.10 or $156.40 for Health Care card holders (as of 1 July 2017) for a VCAT review. Any person experiencing financial hardship including people who hold Health Care Cards, may apply for this fee to be waived, reduced or postponed, this is called fee relief. An application form to apply for fee relief is available on the VCAT website at www.vcat.vic.gov.au.
If you lodge a VCAT review then:
- The TAC will reconsider its decision
- If the TAC does not change its decision the VCAT may ask you to attend a compulsory conference to try to resolve the dispute
- If your dispute is not resolved, the VCAT will set a hearing date. You can represent yourself or have a lawyer represent you. After the hearing, the VCAT will make a decision.
What you need to do
Complete the Application for Review of a Decision – Review and Regulation form. This can be completed online or obtained by calling VCAT on (03) 9628 9700 or at www.vcat.vic.gov.au. Return the completed form, with the appropriate fee (if this applies to you) to the VCAT.
Information about lodging an application with the VCAT is available on the VCAT website.
The steps involved after you have lodged your review with the VCAT are outlined below.
Step 1 - TAC review of application
The TAC has 28 days from receiving a copy of an application from the VCAT to either:
- Make no change to its decision
- Change its decision
- Revoke its decision; or
- Request further information.
If the TAC does not respond to you within 28 days the matter will go directly to a VCAT directions hearing.
If the TAC has requested further information from you, you (or your legal representative) have 90 days to either provide this information or respond to the request. The TAC then has 28 days to either finish the review or contact you and attempt to resolve the issue.
If you do not provide the information requested within 90 days, the TAC can apply to have the application dismissed by the VCAT.
Step 2 - VCAT directions hearing, compulsory conference or final hearing
To help settle a dispute, a directions hearing, compulsory conference or final hearing may take place depending on the case.
These conferences and hearings give parties the opportunity to call or give evidence, ask questions of witnesses and make submissions. At the end of the conference or hearing, a member of the VCAT either gives a decision on the spot, or writes a decision after the hearing and delivers the decision as soon as possible.
VCAT compulsory conference
The VCAT may order that a compulsory conference take place. If you have a solicitor, they can represent you at this conference, or you can represent yourself. The aim of the conference is to settle the dispute in an informal, cost-effective and speedy manner.
You will be invited to attend the compulsory conference which will be held at the VCAT. At the conference you, or your lawyer, will sit down with a member of the VCAT and the TAC to discuss the dispute. Each party will present the evidence they are relying on to support their claim. The member of the VCAT will also meet with you privately.
You may meet as a group with the TAC and the VCAT member and privately with the VCAT member, several times over the duration of the conference with the aim of resolving the dispute.
At the conclusion of the conference the VCAT member can either settle the dispute, order a directions hearing if more information is required by either party, order another compulsory conference or order the matter to be heard at a VCAT final hearing.
If the matter resolves at the compulsory conference the TAC will pay all parties' costs if the decision has been varied or revoked.
VCAT directions hearing
This step usually applies when more information is required following a compulsory conference. If the VCAT member orders either party to provide more information, a directions hearing will be held to present that new information. The VCAT member may then order another compulsory conference, or send the matter to a final hearing.
VCAT final hearing
If the issue is not resolved at the compulsory conference then a VCAT final hearing will be held. This hearing is a formal legal proceeding with a member of the VCAT adjudicating. You must present all evidence you are relying on to dispute the TAC's decision and call on any witnesses you are relying on. The VCAT member will then make a decision which is binding to all parties.
The VCAT website has comprehensive information about a VCAT hearing.
Step 3 – Hearing costs
If the VCAT overturns the TAC's decision or varies it and you are legally represented, the TAC may be ordered to pay your standard legal costs of the proceeding (from the date of the TAC decision that is the subject of the dispute) including reasonable disbursements, such as the VCAT filing fee. Depending on the terms of the costs agreement you have with your solicitor, there may be a gap between the standard costs payable by the TAC and the costs you are liable to pay your solicitor.
If the VCAT upholds the TAC's decision, you may be ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding, including the TAC's standard costs and reasonable disbursements.
In making any cost orders, VCAT may take into account either party's failure to respond to a request for information and any offer of settlement made by either party.