If you are unable to settle your dispute in conciliation, then the hearing will take place. A Tribunal Member presides over the hearing where parties are given the opportunity to put forward their case and present their evidence. It is likely your hearing will be listed with a number of other matters in a 'group list'.
A hearing is where a Tribunal Member listens to both sides of the case, considers the evidence presented and then makes a legally binding order.
The Tribunal Member will sit at the front of the hearing room facing the parties. Parties sit at tables facing the Member. Hearings are sound recorded so there is an accurate record of what is said.
As NCAT Consumer and Commercial Division hearings are open to the public, be prepared to have other people in the hearing room when you are presenting your case. People such as other parties waiting for their hearing, or friends and family will sit at the back of the room. Other Tribunal Members, Conciliators, NCAT staff members and security officers may also be present.
Tribunal Members are independent statutory officers who hear and determine NCAT applications in accordance with the law and the evidence presented.
The Tribunal Member will sit at the front of the hearing room. The parties presenting their case sit facing the Member at tables. Address the Member as 'Mr' and 'Ms' and the Member's surname.
The Tribunal Member will explain what happens at the hearing. The applicant will usually be asked to speak first, followed by the respondent. You may be asked to take an oath or affirmation as a formal promise to tell the truth. The Member will usually ask questions along the way.
When it is your turn, it is important that you keep your statements concise and relevant to the hearing. The Tribunal Member may ask you to move on to your next point if you are repeating yourself, if the point you are making is not helping to clarify the issues in dispute, or if you are providing evidence that is not relevant.
Applications are decided on the 'balance of probabilities'. This means that the Tribunal Member will make a decision about what is more likely to have happened based on the evidence presented by the parties.
The Tribunal Member will generally make their decision at the hearing, after the parties have presented their evidence.
When a matter involves complicated legal arguments, the Tribunal Member may need to 'reserve' their decision. This means that a decision is not made immediately after the hearing. Instead the Tribunal Member will take time to review the evidence and relevant legislation before making their decision at a later date.
When finalised, the reserved decision is provided to the parties in written form and contains the orders and the Tribunal Member's reasons for the decision.