Resisting the Creeping Tide of Court-Type Procedures

For over two decades, there has been a steady trend towards the amalgamation of a multitude of smaller tribunals into larger ‘super tribunals’:  the AAT, VCAT, WA SAT, QCAT, NCAT, SACAT, ACAT and the NTCAT.  That amalgamation, together with the conferral of considerable additional jurisdiction on the CATs to resolve inter partes civil disputes, means that the CATs now provide an alternative avenue to the courts for the delivery of civil and administrative justice.  The jurisdiction of each of the CATs now encompasses the determination of disputes of considerable legal or factual complexity, value and significance to the parties involved, and in which those parties are often legally represented.  Disputes of that kind tend to take longer to resolve; to involve more, and more complex, evidence, including expert evidence; to involve technical legal arguments; and may be more susceptible to the adoption of ‘court-type’ procedures.

The breadth of their jurisdiction has thus given rise to a new challenge for the CATs: how to remain true to their fundamental objectives of achieving the resolution of proceedings fairly and according to the substantial merits of the case, while also dealing with those proceedings informally, with as little technicality as possible, and as speedily and cheaply as the circumstances permit.

In this paper, I look at:

  • The evolution of the jurisdiction of the CATs;
  • Some of the implications of the conferral of jurisdiction to deal with inter partes civil disputes;
  • How might the creeping tide of court-type procedures be resisted?
    • Developing a philosophy for the existence of the CATs; and
    • Practical strategies for a tribunal-centric approach, especially in dealing with complex matters.

The panel discussion to follow will permit a more detailed consideration of these practical strategies.

Hon Justice Janine Pritchard
President State Administrative Tribunal

Justice Pritchard commenced as the President of the State Administrative Tribunal on 4 June 2019.

Her Honour was appointed to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 2010 and appointed as a judge of the Court of Appeal in 2018.  Between June 2009 and June 2010, her Honour was a judge of the District Court of Western Australia and during that period she served as a Deputy President of the State Administrative Tribunal.

From 1991 until her appointment to the District Court, Justice Pritchard worked at the Western Australian State Solicitor’s Office.  Justice Pritchard also lectured and tutored in law at Western Australian universities at various times during the same period.

Justice Pritchard holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Australian National University, as well as a Master of Laws degree (with Distinction) from the University of London. Her Honour also holds a Graduate Diploma in Women’s Studies from Murdoch University.


Jun 10 2021


9:30 am - 11:00 am

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Jun 09 2021
  • Time: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm