Increase in Civil Jurisdiction

Increase in the ACAT’s Civil Jurisdiction - Overview


The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008 (the ACAT Act) gives power to ACAT to hear and determine civil disputes for $10,000 or less.

From 15 December 2016, the ACAT will have increased jurisdiction to hear civil disputes, for claims of $25,000 or less. The increase in jurisdiction will ensure that the civil dispute jurisdiction of ACAT continues to be able to address the needs of the Canberra community.

Transfer of applications from the Magistrates Court

If you have an existing civil dispute before the Magistrate’s Court for an amount between 10,000 and $25,000, this may be able to be transferred to ACAT.  A matter can be transferred from the Magistrates Court to ACAT if:

  • the amount claimed is between $10,000 and $25,000;
  • you applied to the Magistrates Court before 15 December 2016;
  • the hearing in the Magistrates Court has not started;
  • you or another party to the proceedings applies to have the matter transferred;  and
  • the Magistrates Court considers the transfer just and makes an order to transfer the matter.  In making an order the Magistrates Court must consider whether there is another proceeding associated with the existing proceeding before the Magistrates Court.  

If you have a matter that is transferred to the ACAT, it will be listed for a preliminary conference at ACAT. The aim of the conference is to:

  • review the matter and what needs to be done to progress it; and
  • help the parties reach an agreement; or
  • if there is no resolution, the dispute will be listed for a hearing and necessary directions will be made, including for any documents to be relied upon to be provided.

New Procedures

From 15 December 2016 onwards, the ACAT will have some new procedures in relation to some civil dispute applications.  Parties will receive notification of ACAT requirements and listings as required.  A summary of some of ACAT’s new procedures is set out below.

Conference and Determination

For matters in which $3,000 or less is claimed, where there is a contested response and no counter claim, a Conference and Determination process will be adopted. A preliminary conference will be listed, with the parties required to file all material relied on beforehand.  If the matter does not resolve at the conference, the matter will then usually go before a different ACAT Member on the same day for a hearing. In summary, the aim of the Conference and Determination is:

  • decide what the real issues in dispute are; and
  • help the parties reach an agreement about how to resolve the dispute; and
  • the dispute can proceed to a hearing on the same day if no agreement can be reached.

Conference and Evaluation

For claims of $15,000 or more, in some circumstances a Conference and Evaluation process will be used.  The process will involve asking parties to submit a case summary and position statement before the preliminary conference.  

The preliminary conference will be listed for 2 -3 hours, after a contested response has been received. If the matter does not settle, it will then proceed to a directions hearing, so that directions can be made for the matter to be listed for hearing and documents to be relied upon to be provided. In summary, the aim of the Conference and Evaluation is to:

  • decide what the real issues in dispute between the parties are; and
  • discuss and reflect upon the ways in which the matter can be resolved; and
  • if possible, reach terms of agreement; or
  • otherwise, identify what steps need to be taken to bring the matter on for hearing.

For more information on the increase in the ACAT's civil jurisdiction or procedures, please contact ACAT on (02) 62071740.