Reading time: 6 minutes

As a business owner, you may encounter the NCAT during the resolution of your commercial dispute.  Whilst NCAT encourages self-representation to minimise costs, you can make a request to have a lawyer represent you at any time during the proceedings.  This article will explore how courts can grant this permission and in what circumstances permission is unnecessary. 

Franchisor Guide to Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

As a franchisor, you must not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct. We explain what it is and how to avoid it.

Download Now

What is NCAT?

NCAT, which stands for the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, is a tribunal service that deals with a range of matters. These include: 

  • tenancy issues;
  • home building disputes; and 
  • consumer claims. 

You will need to complete and lodge an application to start proceedings with NCAT. The application may result in a hearing before a Tribunal Member, but you also have the opportunity to resolve your matter without a hearing. The tribunal can order you to undergo alternative dispute resolution, for example, through the use of preliminary conferences, conciliation, and mediation.

NCAT encourages parties to represent themselves in hearings or otherwise to reduce costs and to provide an accessible and efficient way to resolve your dispute. However, it may be possible to have a representative present your case for you. NCAT may give permission or “grant leave” once you make a request for representation.

How Do I Make a Request for Representation?

You must submit a request for representation in writing and set out the following information:

  • The file number and parties’ names;
  • The reason why you are seeking representation;
  • The name and occupation of your proposed representative; and
  • A statement that your proposed representative has your permission to make decisions without you that are binding.

You can apply before the tribunal hears your matter or at the hearing. However, the Tribunal Member will decide on the day whether to grant you permission for representation.

Seeking Permission for a Lawyer to Represent You

The Tribunal will typically give permission in the following circumstances:

  • The other party is a lawyer or has legal representation.
  • The other party is a government agency.
  • The Tribunal believes not having representation will put you at a disadvantage; or
  • the Tribunal believes you should be represented because there will be complex issues of law or fact in the proceedings.

Can Someone Other than a Lawyer Represent Me?

Yes! Your representative could also be a real estate agent if you are a landlord or an advocate, friend, or family member. However, you would have to authorise this representative to act and make decisions on your behalf. 

The Tribunal will consider a variety of factors when determining whether to allow a non-lawyer to represent you. These include if your proposed representative:

  • has sufficient knowledge of the issues to represent you effectively;
  • can deal fairly and honestly with the Tribunal; and
  • has permission to make decisions on your behalf.

Represented without Permission

There are limited circumstances when permission of the Tribunal is not required to be represented. These include where:

  • You have been granted legal assistance under the Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW).
  • You are a party to proceedings under the Retail Leases Act 1994 (NSW); or
  • you are a resident of a retirement village and your representative is a resident or the Residents Committee according to law.

Should I Have a Lawyer Represent Me? 

When making a decision as to whether you should have a lawyer represent you, there are a number of things to consider. The first, of course, is whether the Tribunal would allow you to be represented by a lawyer. 

Beyond this, however, it is important to consider the cost implications of engaging a solicitor. In situations where the value of your matter is reasonably high, you may be more likely to engage a legal practitioner. 

Alternatively, where you are aware the other party has engaged a solicitor, it may be wise to do so yourself. The power imbalance is an element to be considered by both the Tribunal and other parties to the matter as it can significantly impact the outcome of the case. 

Key Takeaways 

There are a number of elements to consider when determining whether a lawyer can, or should, represent you at NCAT. While the Tribunal will have the final decision as to whether you can appoint a lawyer, it is important to consider your best options. 

If you are unsure or are looking for guidance, our experienced litigation lawyers can assist you as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 1300 544 755 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have a lawyer represent me at NCAT?

Yes, you can have a lawyer represent you at NCAT. However, in most circumstances, you will be required to request permission from the Tribunal prior to having a lawyer represent you in your matter. 

Who can represent me at NCAT?

You may engage a lawyer to represent you at NCAT, so long as you have received approval from the Tribunal. Alternatively, you may choose to have someone else represent you at NCAT (such as your real estate agent or a family or friend who is familiar with NCAT’s processes) but just be sure they have the background required, can deal fairly and honestly with the Tribunal and have permission to make decisions on your behalf.

Will I be appointed a lawyer at NCAT?

The Tribunal will not appoint you a lawyer but there are limited circumstances under which you will not need to apply to be represented by a lawyer.

If I am unable to appoint a lawyer, how can I better understand NCATs’ processes? 

The Tribunals website offers a great deal of information and details on the processes and procedures. If you are ever in doubt, you can call the registry which can provide you with some guidance. The registry will not be able to provide you with legal advice but can point you in the right direction with any procedural issues.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards