Telephone attendance

Important information: COVID-19

Some of the information below has changed due to COVID-19. For more information, see changes due to COVID-19.


Parties, representatives and witnesses are expected to attend ACAT in person. If you cannot, you can ask ACAT for permission to take part in a conference, mediation or hearing by telephone.

Parties are strongly encouraged (and are often required) to attend final hearings in person, instead of by telephone.

If you do not attend ACAT when required, your application may be dismissed or orders may be made in your absence.

Making a request

You must ask ACAT to attend by telephone at least five days before you need to come to ACAT.

To make a request, fill in a telephone attendance request form [DOC 50KB] or contact us and tell us in writing:

  • the name of the person who wants to attend by telephone
  • whether the person is a party, representative or witness
  • the date the person wants to attend by telephone
  • why the person wants to attend by telephone
  • the telephone number to be used on the day of the conference or hearing.

Consideration of your request

ACAT will consider your request and let you know whether it is approved. When deciding if you can attend by telephone, we’ll consider:

  • the type of proceedings (for example, a conference, mediation or hearing)
  • the nature and complexity of the case
  • any views expressed by a party to the case
  • the reason for the request
  • any prejudice or disadvantage a party might suffer if permission is not granted
  • the delay that might occur if telephone attendance is not granted
  • other matters, such as whether there are issues of credibility which would benefit from seeing a witness in person or the amount of documentary evidence to be shown to a witness in the case.

Do not assume that your request will be approved. Until you hear otherwise from us, you need to attend ACAT in person.

Contact us if you have not heard the outcome of your request.

How it works

If telephone attendance is approved, ACAT will:

  • call you at the start of the conference or hearing (if you are in Australia) or
  • give you instructions about how to call ACAT (this will usually only occur if you are overseas or there are a number of people attending by phone).

Your obligations

Before you attend by telephone, you must have lodged with ACAT and given to the parties any documents or material that you intend to rely on. Make sure you do this by any due date you are given.

When you appear at ACAT by telephone, you must:

  • be available by telephone for the duration of the preliminary conference, mediation or hearing
  • be ready to participate when the tribunal calls
  • be fully prepared and in a quiet, private place
  • make sure the phone being used is fully charged with reception and sufficient credit
  • have in front of you all documents, photographs and other material for the case
  • make sure any document or material you will refer to is numbered and ordered in a way that means the tribunal and all parties can easily identify a particular document
  • make sure that any document or material you will refer to has been provided to the tribunal and all parties in compliance with any directions made.

Attendance and participation

Remember, if you do not attend ACAT when you are required (whether by telephone or in person), the case may proceed and orders may be made in your absence.

You must inform ACAT, at the earliest opportunity, if you cannot hear or follow the preliminary conference, mediation or hearing.

More information

See Practice note 3 of 2020, taking part by telephone.

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.