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NCAT updates and changes

15 December 2016

Several topics and issues were recently discussed at an NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) consultation meeting, including hearing notice postal issues, sound quality problems at venues, agents using interpreters, and where strata disputes are heard.

REINSW Life Fellow and NCAT Panel Member on the Liaison and General Committees, Tim Anderson, attended the meeting and reported back on the various issues. 

These included:

Hearings at new venue

Hearings at the new venue, the Masonic Centre, 66 Goulburn Street, Sydney started on 12 January 2017, with the public office located on level 14 and hearing rooms on levels 14 to 17.

Introduction of new Principal Members for the Consumer and Commercial Division

NCAT's Consumer and Commercial Division is introducing two new Principal Members.

They are:

  1. Linda Pearson - previously a Commissioner for the Land and Environment Court and chair of the NCAT Panel prior to the appointment of the President, Justice Robertson Wright.
  2. Kim Rosser - previously a Senior Member and Deputy Chairperson of the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal since 2006

Mark Harrowell who was a Principal Member for the Consumer and Commercial Division, has moved to become a Principal Member of Appeals.

NCAT operations

Australia Post issues

Divisional Registrar Vikki Hardwick spoke of problems relating to the delivery of documents by Australia Post, particularly from country registries. 

She said that many examples had been given when notices of hearings arrived after the hearing date. As a result, NCAT will be having discussions with Australia Post on how it can improve its service.

Venues and sound quality

Following complaints about the acoustics at hearing venues state wide, the Registrar is reviewing the suitability of all venues used by NCAT.

It was commented that country areas have a problem finding premises and many public buildings are old, have acoustic problems and don't have amplification or roving microphones available.

However more modern buildings which could be suitable can't be used because of the ban on using licensed premises.

Evidence at hearings

Applicants who want to use colour photographs as part of their evidence will need to bring copies for all parties and the tribunal member, because none of the NCAT venues have colour copiers.


Under the legislation, landlords and tenants who don't speak English are entitled to an interpreter at no cost. The Deputy Chairman is concerned that an increasing number of agents representing landlords are asking to use this service for themselves.

He feels that an agent representing his client should be able to communicate with them and not have to rely on an interpreter. As a result the service will be available, but at the agent’s expense. 

NCAT and new strata legislation

Disputes regarding the forced sale of all lots under a Strata Scheme will be heard by the Land and Environment Court not NCAT. Individual strata disputes will remain with NCAT.

The new Act also gives the Tribunal a number of new powers, including making orders to comply with by-laws and imposing higher financial penalties on those who do not abide by the by-laws. For more click here.

Legislation reviews

A review of the Retail Leases Act and Australian Consumer law is under way.