1. Research your options
Before you make an application, take a close look at the information available on this website.
You will first need to consider whether applying to NTCAT is the best option for your situation. It is always a good idea to communicate appropriately with the other party prior to filling an application. In many cases, a dispute may be resolved by the parties without needing to apply to NTCAT.
If you decide that NTCAT is the best option for your situation, you will then need to check that NTCAT has jurisdiction (that is, the legal power) to deal with your matter. Whilst NTCAT is designed to enable and encourage parties to represent themselves in hearings, you may need to consider obtaining legal advice if you are unsure whether NTCAT has jurisdiction.
2. Complete a Form 1 Initiating Application
NTCAT proceedings are commenced by way of filing a Form 1 Initiating Application.
The same form is used whether the matter is brought in NTCAT’s original or review jurisdictions.
A person who files an Initiating Application with NTCAT is called the ‘applicant’ and the person against whom the action is brought is called the ‘respondent’. Some cases have more than one applicant or respondent.
It is important to ensure that all parts of the Initiating Application are completed, including carefully identifying the respondent or respondents. For example, in the case of a company, you must ensure that you use the registered company name not the business or trading name.
You should carefully read the Guide - Completing a Form 1 Initiating Application to ensure you have included enough information for NTCAT and the respondent to understand what you are seeking and why.
There is usually an application fee payable at the time of filing the Form 1 Initiating Application. In some cases of financial hardship, an applicant may be entitled to a fee waiver. More information about NTCAT’s fees can be found here.
Time limits may also apply in relation to filing your application with NTCAT. NTCAT recommends that you check the relevant legislation, including considering whether your application is affected by a limitation period as set out in the Limitation Act 1981. This Act sets out time limits after which certain legal actions are not maintainable.
You may consider obtaining legal advice if you are unsure about the limits that may relate to your matter.
3. Follow the Standard Orders
When you have filed your Initiating Application with NTCAT and paid the applicable fee (or have been granted a fee waiver) it will be assessed for compliance with certain basic requirements of the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act and the Act of Parliament that confers jurisdiction on NTCAT.
The Registrar must refuse to accept an application if it is made by a person not entitled to make it, if it is made after a time limit, or if it does not otherwise comply with the relevant legislation.
If there is insufficient information in your Initiating Application, you may be requested to provide further information.
If the Initiating Application is accepted by the Registrar, the proceeding is regarded as commenced in NTCAT. NTCAT will assign a reference number to the matter and you should use this whenever you contact NTCAT or the other party. The reference number will appear on all NTCAT correspondence about the matter.
If your Initiating Application is accepted, it will be returned to you with standard orders about how the case will be managed. The standard orders apply to all parties and specify who has to do what and when.
It is very important that parties comply with the standard orders or notify NTCAT immediately if this is not possible.
4. Prepare for your proceeding
It is important that you gather the information and documents needed to support your case and provide these to NTCAT and to the other side when ordered to do so. You may not be allowed to rely on evidence that has not been provided in this way.
You should prepare for your hearing by reading the information on this website that is applicable to your case.
You should bring with you to the hearing any materials you intend to refer to (remembering that copies of these materials should already have been provided to NTCAT and to the other side). It will assist you in ensuring that NTCAT understands your case if you carefully organise the materials (for example in an electronic or hard copy folder) and if you identify them in a way that is logical (for example by date and a short description).