From 15 December 2016 the civil dispute jurisdiction of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) has increased from $10,000 to $25,000. This means that owners corporations seeking debt recovery of up to $25,000 may proceed in ACAT rather than in the ACT Magistrates Court, unless a request is made by either party to proceedings to transfer the claim.

The increase in jurisdiction has also ushered in some procedural changes in ACAT.

For claims of $3,000 or less a conference and immediate determination process will be adopted.  This will apply where there is no counterclaim and a contested response has been received.   If there is no resolution at the listed conference, the matter will usually proceed to a hearing on the same day.  It is anticipated that the conference and the determination process will be scheduled weekly on a Friday.

For claims of $15,000 or more, in some circumstances a conference and evaluation process will be utilised.  The process will involve asking parties to submit a case summary and position statement before the preliminary conference.  The preliminary conference will be listed for 2 -3 hours, after a contested response has been received. If the matter does not settle, it will proceed to hearing.

From 15 December 2016, civil disputes where between $10,000 and $25,000 is claimed may be transferred to ACAT from the Magistrates Court.  These matters may be transferred if the court considers the transfer just and makes an order to transfer the matter.  In making an order the Magistrates Court must consider whether there is another proceeding associated with the existing proceeding before the Magistrates Court.  A matter can only be transferred if the hearing has not started and one of the parties applies to have the matter transferred.

The conference and determination approach, and the conference and evaluation approach, appear to be an attempt to streamline complicated or vexed claims. For owners corporations seeking debt recovery, the changes mean that claims under $10,000 will proceed in NCAT, whereas claims between $10,000 and $25,000 may proceed in the Magistrates Court if the appropriate order is made.

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