There are a number of things you can do if you cannot attend the Tribunal.
If you cannot be there in person but you are available at the specified time, you can request a teleconference. This is where one or both parties will be called by the Tribunal at an appointed time and will be on speaker phone – in a private room. Be aware that your request for a teleconference will depend on the reasons you need one, and they are not granted automatically. You should request a teleconference in writing, addressed to the Registrar of the Tribunal. You can find contact details for the Tribunal here.
You can have somebody else represent you at the Tribunal, such as a friend or family member.
You need to fill out a form called “Power of Attorney for Representation of an Individual”, from the Tribunal website here.
Make sure you provide your representative with the relevant facts, evidence and arguments to make.
It may help to provide these in writing.
For a conference, tell them what you would agree to settle for.
If possible, you should try to be available by telephone in case the Tribunal needs to contact you.
If the Registrar or Tribunal Member asks a question and your representative doesn’t know the answer and you cannot be contacted, the Tribunal is likely to accept the landlord or agent’s version of events.
If you cannot attend the Tribunal and/or are not available at the specified time then you must carefully follow the procedure set out for requesting an adjournment (rescheduling). Be aware that ACAT have said
that adjournments will be granted sparingly so you cannot be assured of a new time being arranged.
Direction 19 of the ACAT Directions (special rules about how ACAT operates) sets out the ACAT’s approach to requests for adjournments. Requests for the adjournment of a conference will be considered with reference to:
- the reasons for the request and the attitude of each other party to the application to the request for an adjournment;
- any serious disadvantage the requesting party (or where relevant, the public), may suffer if the adjournment is not granted;
- any prejudice to each other party (or where relevant, to the public),
- if the adjournment is granted; the appropriateness of an order requiring the requesting party to pay costs if an adjournment is granted;
- and any other relevant matter.
Any request for a change to a date for a conference or variation of directions hearing can be made by letter or email and MUST address ALL of the points above.
You MUST ensure that you send a copy to the other party (either via letter or by copying them in on an email). If you don’t do this ACAT will not do it for you, and will not consider your request until this has been done.
If the request is received by telephone or in person, the same questions will be asked of you, and the Registry staff will write your answers down. If you go to the ACAT counter in person you should ask for an Application for Interim or Other Orders or write the information down on ordinary notepaper – and sign it.
Remember: that the existing dates/orders/directions etc remain in place and are not in any way affected by your request until a decision is made.
The matter will then be referred to a Registrar, Member or President for decision. Depending on the urgency of the request, and the availability of the deciding officer this should be done as soon as possible. The officer making the decision may need to speak to both parties before making a decision. If you are not happy with the decision you can raise the issue with the Registrar or make a formal complaint to the General President of the ACAT.
This process does not affect a request signed and submitted jointly by the parties. However, the ultimate decision is that of the ACAT, and that ACAT will not necessarily accept a procedural outcome arranged between the parties.
If you don’t attend a conference or hearing without notifying the ACAT
The ACAT will endeavour to take all reasonable practical steps to contact the parties required to appear before the ACAT. If a party fails to attend then the ACAT may:
- order the application be considered at another time, or
- make an order that something else be done before the application continues (for example that the applicant makes attempts to find or notify the respondent), or
- give an adjournment, or
- proceed with the hearing in the absence of the party, or
- dismiss the application if the party is the applicant, or
- remove the party from the application if they are not the applicant or respondent