Attendance Is Compulsory
The functions of a VCAT compulsory conference are:
- to identify and clarify the nature of the issues in dispute in the proceeding;
- to promote a settlement of the proceeding;
- to identify the questions of fact and law to be decided by VCAT; and
- to allow the VCAT Member to give directions concerning the conduct of the proceeding.
You must attend if VCAT has ordered you to attend. If you do not, orders may be made in your absence.
This stage of the proceedings is unique to the Tribunal. The Compulsory Conference is similar to a Mediation, but for the fact that the Tribunal appointed Mediator takes a more active role in directing the parties, including advising on recommended terms of agreement and the likely outcome of the case should it proceed to a hearing. The Mediator essentially states their opinion by saying words to the effect of, “if I was called to decide the case upon the information before me, the outcome would be…”.
This process has the advantage of bringing the dispute to a head, but without the cost consequences of a hearing.
As with Mediation, the majority of matters that proceed to a Compulsory Conference resolve by way of an agreed settlement.