Litigation Update: NCAT’s first year and progress of the Newcastle courthouse development


The Hunter Region’s access to justice is set to improve off the back of some significant changes both within the region and state-wide. In this article, Susan Moran, Principal of the dispute resolution team explains the purpose of the new NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) and provides an update on the Newcastle Courthouse. Our dispute resolution team provides advice to individuals and businesses in relation to all aspects of commercial law, including local, district and supreme courts and tribunals including NCAT.

Last year, we reported on the newly established NCAT which consolidated 22 former NSW tribunals and other bodies. NCAT is a single tribunal with 4 divisions, being Administrative & Equal Opportunity, Consumer & Commercial division, Guardianships and Occupational divisions.

The objective of such a consolidation was to provide the NSW community with a single point of access for Tribunal services that are “prompt, accessible, economical and effective”.

Since it was established in January 2014, NCAT has conducted more than 92,000 hearings, on issues ranging from tenancy disputes to building works, decisions on guardianship and financial management and consumer complaints.

NCAT’s online services appear to be providing users with easy access to the Tribunal’s services, with more than 40,000 applications lodged online since it commenced.

Over the next few years, NCAT aims to raise awareness and understanding in the community about the Tribunal to ensure its role is promoted within the NSW civil justice system.

We will continue to monitor the Tribunal’s progress over the next 12 months and report on any significant developments.

Update on the Newcastle Courthouse development

If you’ve traversed the west end of Hunter Street recently, you would have noticed that the new courthouse precinct is in its final stages of construction.

Reportedly set to open in October 2015, the new courthouse contains 10 courtrooms and 2 tribunal rooms with the capacity to host Local, District and Supreme Court hearings. It is said to be the most technologically advanced courthouse facility outside Sydney.

We have recently observed that Judges sitting in the Civil Division of the District Court are taking into account the new types of facilities, such as video-link for witnesses giving evidence, when listing matters for hearing in Newcastle later this year.

The new technologically advanced facilities may also open the door for opportunities to hear more complex matters in Newcastle, including Supreme Court trials, which will no doubt increase the legal presence in the Hunter.

We will continue to update its clients as to when the new courthouse is likely to open for business.

This article is not legal advice.  It is intended to provide commentary and general information only.  Access to this article does not entitle you to rely on it as legal advice.  You should obtain formal legal advice specific to your own situation.  Please contact us if you require advice on matters covered by this article.