Strategic statement 2017-2020

The ACT Courts and Tribunal Corporate Plan 2017-2020 [PDF 724.7 KB] sets out ACAT's Strategic Statement 2017-2020.

ACAT commenced operation in February 2009. It is established under the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008 (the ACAT Act).

ACAT considers and resolves applications lodged by individuals, businesses, government agencies and occupational regulatory authorities about many different things. The subject matter of applications extends from the review of multi-million dollar planning and taxation decisions to the disconnection of essential services. Regardless of the subject matter, each case is of fundamental importance to the participants and often, to sectors within the ACT community. Applications can be made about a wide range of matters such as:

  • the review of a large number of administrative decisions
  • discrimination complaints
  • guardianship, financial management and enduring powers of attorney
  • mental health treatment and care
  • residential tenancies disputes
  • energy and water hardship and complaints
  • civil disputes valued at $25,000 and under
  • unit titles disputes
  • retirement villages
  • motor accident injuries
  • the discipline and regulation of various occupations including construction occupations, surveyors, architects, security agents, real estate agents, teachers and the health and legal professions.

ACAT purpose and achievement of goals

ACAT’s purpose is to promote the rule of law for civil and administrative justice in the ACT by:

  • providing accessible systems that encourage people to resolve disputes themselves
  • making authoritative and timely decisions to resolve disputes when needed
  • adopting fair procedures and processes which enable people to be heard
  • applying the law equally and treating people equally and with respect, regardless of their circumstances
  • being responsive to the needs of each case
  • working in a way that attempts to heal relationships rather than harm.

ACAT values and behaviours

To achieve this purpose ACAT values:

  • accessibility and transparency
  • timeliness, professionalism and quality
  • fairness
  • innovation
  • awareness of the impact of our work on the well-being of individuals and of the community.

ACAT members and professional support staff value collegiality and cooperation and seek at all times to promote the informal, respectful, yet professional nature of the ACAT.

Planning for the future in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal

The ACAT Strategic Statement outlines the following priorities for 2020/2021:

1.      Dispute resolution

  • Continue to develop high quality and accessible dispute resolution processes that are formal and informal as appropriate
  • Monitor and respond effectively to trends in matters brought to the ACAT and to new and changing laws
  • Implement processes for the smooth operation of new legislation conferring jurisdiction on the ACAT
  • Strengthen engagement with key stakeholders
  • Streamline processes and case management pathways
  • Provide easy access to useful information that assists parties to represent themselves
  • Explore the application of therapeutic jurisprudence and other innovative approaches to the ACAT’s work.

2.      Ensure ACAT is a productive, attractive place to work for members and registry staff

  • Develop and implement a training and induction program, and develop a performance framework for members
  • Continue to build the capability of the ACAT registry staff through skills development and training.
  • Continue to build a collaborative, collegial culture
  • Continue to embrace and influence change, be resilient and show initiative
  • Continue to foster a culture of ongoing improvement and accountability, which is supported by regular review and development of registry processes and policies.

3.      Support services and registry

  • Work in partnership with ACTCT to implement the next stages of the ICMS, including the delivery of electronic services
  • Strengthen data collection and the use of data in planning processes
  • In collaboration with ACTCT, ensure ACAT’s future premises are suited to its purpose and provide an appropriate balance of informality and professionalism.
Glossary and terms

Glossary and terms

ACT Civil and Administrative TribunalA tribunal established under the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. It may also be referred to as ACAT or Tribunal.

Adjourn (or adjournment)To suspend or postpone a preliminary conference, mediation or hearing and reschedule it for a future date.

Administrative reviewACAT has jurisdiction to review some administrative decisions made by the ACT Government. Find out about Review of ACT Government decisions.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)Also known as dispute resolution. This is a way of resolving disputes without a formal hearing. It may involve a preliminary conference or mediation. ADR is used to help parties resolve cases by agreement.

AnorMeans ‘and another’. This term is generally used to name parties to proceedings when there is more than one applicant or respondent.

Appeal TribunalA tribunal constituted under section 81 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal 2008 to review a decision of the tribunal (not all ACAT decisions are appealable at ACAT – you may need to go to the Supreme Court).

AppellantThe individual or company that appeals an ACAT decision.

ApplicantThe individual or company that brings a case to ACAT, usually by making an application.

Authorising lawsA law that says an application (including referrals) may be made to ACAT. An authorising law may also set out the powers ACAT has in a case. Also see ‘jurisdiction’.

Calling a witnessA party or their representative will ‘call a witness’ at an ACAT hearing when they ask a witness to give evidence.

CaseAlso known as a matter, dispute, application or referral. Cases come to ACAT when ACAT has jurisdiction (power) to make a decision.

Cross-examinationThe process of asking a witness questions to test or check the evidence that the witness has given to ACAT.

Defined benefitsare the following benefits (see section 33 of the MAI Act):

  1. income replacement benefits;
  2. treatment and care benefits;
  3. quality of life benefits;
  4. death benefits;
  5. funeral benefits.

Deliver a decisionAlso ‘handing down a decision’. This is giving a decision about an ACAT case. It may be done verbally or in writing (or both).

DirectionsInstructions that set out what each party must do (and when), often to prepare a case for hearing.

Directions hearingA short hearing where an ACAT Member or Registrar decides how to manage a case and what needs to be done before a hearing. Find out about directions hearings.

Ex parte orderAn order made by ACAT where one or more parties were not present.

Expert reportA written report from an expert that may be used as evidence.

Expert witnessA person with specialised knowledge based on their training, study or experience. An expert can give evidence at a hearing. Find out more about witness statements.

Final directions hearingSometimes ACAT will hold a final directions hearing prior to the final hearing of an application. The purpose is to make sure the case is ready to go to a hearing and give the parties a chance to ask questions about the hearing process.

Handed upGiving documents to an ACAT Member or Registrar in a hearing.

In chambersWhen ACAT considers something without holding a hearing.

Joined party (joined/joinder)A party who was not originally a party to the dispute but has later been added to the case.

JurisdictionACAT’s authority (power) to deal with, hear and decide applications (cases).

LeaveIf someone asks for leave, they are usually asking for permission to do something.

List (or listing)A schedule (or list) of cases to be heard at ACAT each day.

Listing noticeA letter or written document from ACAT that sets out when a conference, mediation or hearing is scheduled at ACAT.

MAI ActMotor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (ACT).

MediationA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator (who is also an ACAT Member or Registrar). It is held under section 35 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008.

Non-publication and/or non-disclosure orderAlso called a ‘suppression order’. It is an order that requires certain information not to be published or disclosed. It is made under section 39 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. Find out about public hearings and confidentiality.

Notice to partiesA letter sent to the parties in a case that sets out the time, date and location for an ACAT conference, mediation or hearing.

Opening statementUsually means a statement made at the beginning of a hearing to outline the key points in the case. Sometimes parties are asked to give an opening statement at a mediation or preliminary conference.

Originating applicationAn application that starts an ACAT case.

Party or partiesAn individual or company directly involved in an ACAT case, for example an applicant or respondent. Find out how to identify and name parties.

Preliminary conferenceA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute with the help of an ACAT Member or Registrar. See section 33 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. ACAT has different types of preliminary conferences.

RegistryThe administrative section of ACAT that accepts documents lodged by parties, handles enquiries and provides support for case management.

Relevant insurerfor a motor accident, means the insurer under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (see section 34) of the motor vehicle considered to be at fault for the motor accident in the ACT.

RepresentativeA person who represents or advocates for an individual or company at a conference, mediation or hearing at ACAT. For example, a legal practitioner or an attorney appointed under a general power of attorney.

Reserved decisionWhen an ACAT Member or Registrar reserves a decision (at the end of a hearing), this means they will give their decision later, either verbally or in writing (sometimes both).

RespondentThe party (or parties) against whom orders or relief is sought.

Serve/serviceA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.

Short service orderAn order that authorises a shorter time for service (than the time otherwise required).

Significant occupational impact (SOI)Significant impact on an injured person’s ability to undertake employment.

Statement of reasonsA document that explains why ACAT made an order in a case. It sets out the law relied on by an ACAT Member or Registrar and explains how the law was applied to the facts of the case. You can request a written statement of reasons within 14 days after an order is made. Find out about statement of reasons.

StayAn order for a particular action (or decision) to be put on hold or suspended for a period of time.

SubmissionA document that sets out your side of a case or dispute and the relevant law. It is presented to ACAT either in writing, verbally or both. Find out about submissions.

SubpoenaRequires a person to appear at ACAT to give evidence or provide documents (or both). Find out about subpoenas.

Substituted service orderAn order that says how a party is to be served with an application or other documents related to the proceedings. In a civil dispute or a rental dispute, an applicant will need to consider asking for a substituted service order if they do not have a physical address for the respondent. Find out about lodging and serving documents.

WitnessA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.