Section 98(3) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic) (VCAT Act) states that ‘Subject to this Act, the regulations and the rules, the Tribunal may regulate its own procedure.’ Adjournments fall within ‘regulation of procedure’ and residential tenancies adjournments are dealt with by the practice note (PNRST 1). See also the Tribunal page on adjournments.
The application for an adjournment should be sent no later than 4:00pm two business days prior to the hearing (i.e. if a hearing is on a Friday it should be sent by 4:00pm on Tuesday). An application for an adjournment should state –
the parties’ names;
the address of the rented premises, room, site and caravan (as the case requires);
the date the application was lodged;
the VCAT reference number;
details of the party’s representation (if applicable);
the scheduled hearing date;
the venue for the hearing;
the date the party would like the hearing adjourned until; and
the reasons the adjournment is sought.
A copy of any supporting documentation (such as a medical certificate, medical appointment card, pre-booked travel itinerary, letter from employer etc) should accompany the request for an adjournment.
Prior to submitting an application for an adjournment, lawyers should seek consent for the adjournment from other parties. If consent of other parties is confirmed in writing, evidence of that consent should be attached to the application for an adjournment using the VCAT request for consent to an adjournment form.
Applications for adjournments made less than two business days before the hearing will only be considered if exceptional circumstances apply (such as sudden serious ill health). The parties are still expected to attend the hearing of an urgent application for an adjournment is filed, and the Tribunal will make a decision about the adjournment on the merits at the hearing.
Where adjournments cannot be made ‘on the papers’, an application for an adjournment will need to be made at the commencement of the hearing. Again, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (‘Charter’) may be of assistance in making submissions on this issue.
The Tribunal’s rules about fairness in ss 97 and 98 apply to adjournment requests and should prevail to the extent of any inconsistency with PNRST1: s 93(3) VCAT Act.