The Victorian Attorney-General proposes to change the VCAT Act to improve the efficiency of the Tribunal.
Allens considers that:
- The proposed legislative changes are likely to be positive for developers and proponents of major projects due to the potential for increased efficiencies in the resolution of planning disputes.
- The extent to which efficiencies will be achieved will be impacted by whether VCAT chooses to exercise its new powers.
- Proponents seeking greater efficiencies should be aware of the amendments and ensure that they advocate VCAT’s use of its new powers in disputes, as appropriate to their situation.
Of particular relevance to the community’s interest in the two applications at VCAT (P763/2013 and P764/2013) are:
- a new section 60A, which provides VCAT with the power (on its own initiative or upon the application of a party) to make an order removing a party from a proceeding if:
- the person’s interests are not, or no longer, affected by the proceeding; or
- the person is not a proper or necessary party to the proceeding.
- to make orders in relation to fees to:
- require one party to reimburse another party for the whole or part of any fee paid in a proceeding, or to be paid in a future proceeding; or
- require a particular party to pay the whole or part of a fee in a future proceeding (or to pay that fee on behalf of another party who is required to pay a fee).
This power is separate from, and in addition to, VCAT’s power to make orders for costs. The Attorney-General has advised us that the fees referred to are those that “are payable to VCAT itself. The change does not relate to parties’ legal costs or expenses other than VCAT fees, such as the costs and expenses their incur for their lawyers or experts.”
These VCAT fees may, in future, include costs incurred by VCAT in relation to expert witnesses, powers to be included under a new Schedule 3.
If the proposed changes to the VCAT Act are passed, they are likely to take effect on 1 February 2015.
- Allens (Meg Lee and Katherine Kirby): “Focus: Significant changes to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Powers” 26 Mar 2014 More
- The Age (Jane Lee and Nick Toscano): “Tenants hit in ‘loser pays’ VCAT reform” 30 Mar 2014 More
- Attorney-General email advice to Lloyd Bunting, 30 Mar 2014