The tribunal has announced it will be expanding the number of matters listed for a compulsory conference (mediation) from 1st January 2023. The change will mainly effect cases listed in the ‘standard planning’ list and cases within the fast track, short cases or major cases list are not expected to be effected. There will be a staged approach to the expansion:
- Appeals lodged by a planning permit applicant under section 79 of the Planning and Environment Act where a responsible authority has failed to make a decision within 60 statutory days will be listed for a compulsory conference from 1st January 2023.
- Appeals lodged by a planning permit applicant under section 80 of the act against any conditions applied to a planning permit by a Responsible Authority will be listed for a compulsory conference from the 1st April 2023.
- Appeals lodged by a planning permit applicant under section 77 of the act against a refusal of a permit application by the Responsible Authority will be listed for a compulsory conference from 1st July 2023 where a hearing of 2 or more days is required.
- Appeals lodged by a permit applicant against a refusal where the hearing is listed for 1 day or less will be listed for a compulsory conference from the 1st October 2023.
The tribunal forecasts that conferences will be completed 10 – 12 weeks before hearing dates. VCAT have also reaffirmed that proceedings under the major cases list and objector appeals lodged under section 82 of the act will continue to be listed for compulsory conferences and proceedings under the fast track or short cases list will be listed for a hearing only.
The announcement comes days after the publication of the VCAT annual report which can be read at this link. This announcement clearly outlines the tribunals intention to mediate planning outcomes rather than a ‘winner takes all’ scenario of a hearing. It is our experience that compulsory conferences can be successful where parties have a clear vision on what they want to achieve prior to the conference and acknowledge that some compromises on their behalf must be made in the interests of settling the dispute. We urge all participants to prepare a clear position you can communicate to all parties if you have an upcoming matter listed for a compulsory conference. Our experts are vastly experienced at these conferences and can help you frame your position in a clear and concise way that can result in a successful compulsory conference.