NTCAT aims to deal with all matters fairly and as efficiently as possible.
To help achieve that aim it has prepared NTCAT rules that are simple and flexible.
In addition, the Tribunal will closely monitor and manage every matter that comes before it in order to ensure that the parties identify and remain focussed upon the real issues requiring determination. Except in very straightforward matters, parties to Tribunal matters can expect to be asked to participate in directions hearings, and/or other conferences, prior to a final hearing.
By virtue of this close involvement, the Tribunal will remain alert to the possibility that matters can be resolved by agreement, for example by mediation. The NTCAT Act contains extensive provisions designed to facilitate resolution of matters without the need for a hearing.
For matters where a hearing is necessary, the NTCAT Act allows for considerable flexibility in the number and qualifications of members who will conduct the hearing. For most matters in the original jurisdiction, and smaller review matters, a single member (or possibly the Registrar) will constitute the tribunal at the hearing. For other matters, a panel of two (or more) members may constitute the tribunal. Where the hearing of a matter is likely to involve consideration by the Tribunal of subjects involving particular expertise or experience, the Tribunal may include a member with that expertise or experience.
Another important facet of NTCAT’s approach to matters is that is intended to be modern. The NTCAT rules, for example, specifically emphasise that the use of electronic means of communication is to be preferred (provided this does not lead to unfairness). In addition, at hearings, NTCAT will encourage - and where possible facilitate - the use of materials in electronic form. NTCAT’s main hearing rooms in Darwin and Alice Springs are also equipped with videoconferencing facilities, enabling parties and witnesses to participate in hearings from similarly equipped locations within and outside the Northern Territory.