Fees for the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) increased on 1 June 2013 with further increases taking effect on 1 July 2013. Attorney-General Robert Clark advised that the main reason for the fee increase is to achieve a fair balance between a ‘user pays’ system and taxpayer funding. It is believed that the new fees will assist in reducing hearing waiting periods.
Fees for cases where the development cost is estimated to be between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000 have increased from $322 to $1553.60. In addition, fees to have a hearing listed on the major cases list have increased by over $2,000. A more minor increase of $250 applies to the commencement of cases not included in the major cases list, where the development cost is estimated to be between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000. Daily hearing fees are charged on top of these commencement fees.
Daily hearing fees for the major cases list have not increased significantly. A more substantial change is the introduction of specific hearing fees for complex cases which require two members. These hearings will attract fees of $1462.5 for each day of hearings, following the first day. Fees for second and subsequent days of hearings for all other cases to which a commencement fee is payable, will attract additional fees ranging from $377.50 to $1054.2 per day.
A number of environmental and resident community groups have expressed fears that the rise in fees will make VCAT inaccessible to third parties, lead to less scrutiny of the planning system and poorer council planning decisions.
Further information about the fee increases can be found at: http://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/news/vcat-fees-effective-1-june-2013