Strata cases no longer need legal representation in NCAT2-February-2015 Property By Evatt Styles
On 1 January 2014, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) amalgamated with around 22 tribunals to form the often described “super” tribunal called the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
NCAT deals with a broad range of matters, from tenancy issues and building works, to decisions on guardianship and the administrative review of government decisions. NCAT aims to have proceedings that lack the formality of a court and its technicalities and legal forms.
The Acting Attorney General and Justice Minister, the Hon. Michael Gallacher MLC said the reason for the amalgamation of these services was to make it easier for people in NSW to access the services they need.
“NCAT enables these services to exist as a network, rather than in isolation, which will improve their quality, consistency and transparency. People will also have access to an internal appeals panel, which will provide quick and accessible reviews of most tribunal decisions,” he said.
No legal representation needed
NCAT encourages parties to represent themselves, without the need for legal representation. In order to have legal representation, a formal application must be made to NCAT.
This is a significant change in strata cases, where parties in strata disputes previously had the right to be represented by a lawyer.
Awarding of costs
Parties now have to pay their own costs in NCAT proceedings unless there are “special circumstances” justifying a costs order against a party. The amount claimed is not relevant.
Previously, in home building cases, the CTTT had discretion to award costs against a party in claims over $30,000. However, that is no longer the case, although there are some costs provisions under the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 which were not repealed and will continue to apply in NCAT.
If you need to know more about making an application under NCAT, including whether you are entitled to legal representation and any alternate dispute resolution methods open to you, please contact Evatt Styles or Streeterlaw Principal Mark Streeter on 02 8488 9646 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.