Legal Practitioners

Information and Resources for Legal Practitioners Appearing in SACAT

 

Appearing in SACAT can be very different to appearing in a court. This page contains information that will be useful for legal practitioners appearing in SACAT for the first time.

Legislation, Rules and Practice Directions

SACAT’s rules and practice directions can be found here.

The laws that govern SACAT and amend other legislation to give jurisdiction to the Tribunal are:

 

In any SACAT matter, the Tribunal will be operating under at least two pieces of legislation; the SACAT Act and the other Act under which the application has been brought (e.g. the Residential Tenancies Act 1995).

Please refer to the relevant jurisdiction list on our website which provides a list of all the Acts under which SACAT has been conferred jurisdiction.

 

Making an application

SACAT is a digital tribunal. All applications are made online through the SACAT website (see http://www.sacat.sa.gov.au/application-form). You can register for an account to keep track of your applications. Alternatively, you can apply as a guest for one-off applications. Accompanying documentation can be uploaded to the online submission. It can also be sent to the Tribunal by email at sacat@sacat.sa.gov.au using the lodgement number or SACAT reference number.

 

Representing a party

Most parties who appear in SACAT are unrepresented. Whether or not a party has a right to representation will depend on their rights under both the SACAT Act and the relevant conferring legislation.

To determine if your client has a right to be represented or if an application will need to be made, please see:

  • SACAT Act 2013, s 56
  • SACAT Rules 2014, r 66
  • Residential Tenancies Act 1995, s 113
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 1993, s 65 and s 68
  • Mental Health Act 2009, s 84 and s 85B

 

In-hearing procedures

Checking in at reception and calling on matters

When you arrive at SACAT, you will need to approach the reception desk and register your arrival. This is so that the Tribunal Member can see, via our online case management system, which parties have arrived for the hearing. As the hearing rooms at SACAT have limited seating, you will not be able to enter the hearing room prior to your matter being called on. The Member, the Member Support Officer (MSO), or if the matter is heard by the President, the President’s Associate, will call on the matter by announcing the parties’ names loudly in the foyer. At that point, parties may enter the hearing room.

Conduct in hearings

When entering the hearing room, you are not required to bow to the presiding member. This is the case whether the matter is being heard by an Ordinary Member, an Executive Senior Member or the President.

The Tribunal Member has broad discretion in how they will run the hearing of a matter. The aim is always to run a hearing in accordance with the objects of the SACAT Act, which are:

  • to keep costs to a minimum;
  • to be accessible and responsive to the parties’ needs;
  • to process and resolve disputes as quickly as possible;
  • to use language that is easy to understand;
  • to be as flexible as possible; and
  • to promote the best principles of public administration, including independence, natural justice and procedural fairness, quality and consistent decisions, and transparency and accountability.

Dress

Counsel are not required to robe.

Salutations

Ordinary Tribunal Members should be referred to as ‘Member X’ the first time you speak to them, and Mr or Ms X every subsequent time.

If you appear before an Executive Senior Member, they should be referred to as Executive Senior Member X the first time, and Mr or Ms X every subsequent time.

You should always refer to the President of the Tribunal as President Hughes when her Honour is sitting in her capacity as the President of the Tribunal.

Tendering evidence

Anything that parties wish to rely on as evidence should be sent to the Tribunal and to the other party electronically prior to the hearing. If it is not possible to provide the documents or evidence prior to the hearing, it may be tendered during the hearing. Where possible, please provide all evidence in a form that can be easily scanned so that it may be uploaded to our digital case management system.

 

Forms

SACAT has compiled some template forms which legal practitioners may require, particularly for administrative review and internal review matters.

 

Costs

SACAT is generally a no costs jurisdiction. In certain circumstances, the Tribunal may make an order for the payment by a party of all or any of the costs of another party or of a person required to appear before the Tribunal in a matter. Please refer to s 57 of the SACAT Act.

SACAT may also make an order that all or any of the costs of proceedings be paid by a party. See: SACAT Act, s 91 and SACAT Regulations, s 11.

 

Publication of decisions

The Tribunal issues thousands of decisions each year across its relevant jurisdictions. Some SACAT decisions of signifance are selected to be published to AustLII.

 

Delivery of decisions

It is very common for Tribunal Members to deliver their decision and reasons ex tempore, at the conclusion of a hearing. A document will then be sent to parties, via email, containing the order.

In Housing & Civil and Administrative & Disciplinary matters, the order will contain findings and reasons. In Community matters, the document will only contain the order and a very simple summary of the factual findings.

Where a Member reserves his or her decision, the decision and order will be emailed to parties. You will not need to attend at the Tribunal for delivery of the decision. Decisions are finalised and sent to parties without notice.

Tribunal Members utilise templates in the online case management system to compile their orders. Therefore, for most matters you will not need to come prepared with drafts. However, if the parties are seeking consent orders, it may be of assistance for the legal practitioners to provide draft orders in this regard.