Lodge or serve documents

If you have a case at ACAT, it is likely that you will:

  • lodge documents with us (for example, forms and supporting documents)
  • serve (give) documents to the other party or parties in a case.

ACAT makes directions in a case about how and when documents are to be lodged and served.

All parties are required to keep their contact details up-to-date. If your contact details change (or you change representatives), fill in and lodge a notice of new contact or representation details form [PDF 67KB].

Lodging documents in an ACAT case

There are different ways you can lodge (give) documents to ACAT, depending on your case type.

Civil disputes, rental property disputes, unit title disputes and retirement village disputes

Documents can be lodged:

  • by post
  • at the ACAT counter

We will accept documents by email to tribunal@act.gov.au when:

  • documents (including attachments) total less than 40 pages
  • there are less than three attachments in total
  • no lodgement fee is payable.

We will not accept documents by email when:

  • documents total more than 40 pages
  • there are more than three attachments
  • documents are in a Zip file
  • documents are in colour (for example, photographs)
  • a fee is usually required to lodge the document (for example, an application, a counter claim or subpoena).

When you are lodging a form or documents, make sure you provide copies – one for each party in the case and one for ACAT.

Check whether you need to pay a fee to lodge documents.

Endorsements of terms in a residential tenancy (lease) can be lodged with ACAT by post, at the ACAT counter or by email to ACAT.RT.Endorsements@act.gov.au. Note – there are no fees for an endorsement.

Energy and water cases

Documents can be lodged at ACAT:

  • for complaints about a utitlity, by email to ewcomplaints@act.gov.au
  • for hardship applications, by email to actenergyhardship@act.gov.au
  • by post
  • at the ACAT counter
  • by fax.

If you are making an application, you can also contact us by telephone. We can tell you the process to make an application.

There are no fees to lodge documents.

Guardianship and management of property cases

Documents can be lodged at ACAT:

There are no fees to lodge documents.

Mental health cases

Documents can be lodged at ACAT:

There are no fees to lodge documents.

Review of ACT Government decisions, occupational regulation and discipline, discrimination cases and appeals

Documents can be lodged at ACAT:

ACAT may ask you to provide some documents in hard copy – contact us for more information.

Check whether you need to pay a fee when lodging documents.

Lodging documents on USB, CD or DVD

Material that cannot be lodged in hardcopy (for example videos or audio) may be lodged on a USB, CD or DVD.

An ACAT Member or Registrar may give permission for large numbers of documents to be lodged on a USB, CD or DVD (for example, documents that have thousands of pages). You will need to make a request in writing to be considered by ACAT for lodgement of documents in this format.

A USB, CD or DVD must be lodged in a sealed envelope with the following written on the outside of the envelope:

  • it contains a USB, CD or DVD
  • the matter name and ACAT case reference number
  • the name of the party lodging the material
  • a brief description of what is on the device.

Please let us know if you require the USB, CD or DVD to be returned to you after the proceedings have ended.

If you want an ACAT Member or Registrar to view the contents of a USB, CD or DVD during a conference, mediation or hearing, review ACAT's technology options (under accessibility).


In ACAT cases, we sometimes use the word 'service' or 'serve'. This is the legal term that means you have formally been given an application or other documents in a case.

Sometimes there are procedures you need to follow to correctly serve documents. For example, a subpoena needs to be personally served on the recipient.

Address for service and contact details

You must make sure you provide and use correct contact details during ACAT proceedings.

Each party in an ACAT case has an address for service. This is where documents and correspondence is sent, usually by post or email. If you have a representative in a case, documents will be sent to that person.

The address for service for a corporation is their registered office. Find out about representing a company and applications against a company (see identify and name parties).

Be aware, if you provide ACAT with an email address, we may use this to correspond with you and send you documents.

ACAT will regard you as being served with (and on notice of) the contents of any documents that are sent to the postal or email address you give us.

It is also useful to provide a phone number, so we can contact you quickly if we need to.

If your contact details (or representative) change, fill in and lodge the notice of new contact or representation details form [PDF 67KB].

If you are concerned about providing your contact details, see the information about public hearings and confidentiality.

When making an application

When an application is lodged at ACAT, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide contact details and an address for service for each party. Find out about naming and identifying parties.

Substituted service

In some cases, such a rental property dispute or civil dispute - if you are the applicant and don’t have a postal address for the respondent, you need to ask ACAT to make orders about an alternate (or substitute) way to serve the respondent. For example, by email.

To apply for substituted service:

  1. Make your own enquiries about the whereabouts and contact details of the respondent. Note, ACAT does not make these enquiries for you.
  2. Complete an application for interim or other orders form [PDF 56KB]. In this form, tell us:
    1. where you want the application served and why
    2. whether you think the application will come to the attention of the respondent if it is served in this way and why
    3. what enquiries you have made to contact the respondent or respondents in the case (for example, if have you recently emailed or telephoned the respondent).
  3. Attach any supporting evidence. For example, if you are asking for an application to be served by email, attach a copy of the emails you have received from that email address.
  4. Lodge your application at ACAT.

ACAT will consider your application for substituted service and let you know if it is approved.

Responding to an application

Once a respondent is served with an ACAT application they can:

  • nominate a different address for service
  • provide additional contact details
  • nominate a representative and provide the address for service and contact details for that representative.

This can be done when lodging a response form or by giving us a notice of new contact or representation details form [PDF 67KB].

During the case

As a case progresses, ACAT will direct parties to serve (give) supporting documents and evidence – make sure you comply with any directions you are given.

More information

Find out more about:

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.

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’.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.