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NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal: CTTT and other tribunals become one super tribunal

From 1 January 2014, the National Civil and Administrative Tribunal of New South Wales (“NCAT“) consolidates 23 of the state’s tribunals into one overarching tribunal.

NCAT is the result of an inquiry by the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice into opportunities to consolidate tribunals in NSW. The parliamentary inquiry found that the previous tribunal system could be ‘complex and bewildering’.

Replacing the numerous tribunals with one united tribunal is expected to:

  • enhance accessibility for the community through a single gateway;
  • improve efficiencies through developing economies of scale; and
  • increase accountability, transparency and quality of decision-making through consistency in standards, processes and professional development.

Established by the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW), NCAT integrates the following tribunals:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Tribunal;
  • Aboriginal Land Councils Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal;
  • Administrative Decisions Tribunal;
  • Charity Referees;
  • Chinese Medicine Tribunal;
  • Chiropractors Tribunal;
  • Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal;
  • Dental Tribunal;
  • Guardianship Tribunal;
  • Local Government Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal;
  • Local Land Boards;
  • Medical Radiation Practice Tribunal;
  • Medical Tribunal;
  • Nursing and Midwifery Tribunal;
  • Occupational Therapy Tribunal;
  • Optometry Tribunal;
  • Osteopathy Tribunal;
  • Pharmacy Tribunal;
  • Physiotherapy Tribunal;
  • Podiatry Tribunal;
  • Psychology Tribunal;
  • Victims Compensation Tribunal; and
  • Vocational Training Appeal Panel.

Some of the bodies that are excluded from NCAT initially (but may be considered in the future) are:

  • Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority;
  • Industrial Relations Commission;
  • Mental Health Review Tribunal;
  • Motor Accidents Authority;
  • Racing Appeals Tribunal;
  • Remuneration Tribunals; and
  • Workers Compensation Commission.

The previous tribunals involved experts from the community and relevant professions that form the backbone of NCAT. By preserving these existing specialties rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, NCAT differs from the super tribunals operating in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and the ACT.

NCAT has the following divisions:

  1. the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division;
  2.  the Consumer and Commercial Division;
  3.  the Occupational and Regulatory Division;
  4.  the Guardianship Division; and
  5. the Victims Support Division.

The internal appeals panel of NCAT is set to enable quick and accessible reviews of most tribunal decisions. Some of the previous tribunals had limited avenues of appeal but as part of NCAT, they are now accountable for their determinations.

On 25 October 2013, NSW Supreme Court Justice Robertson James Wright SC was appointed as the inaugural president of NCAT. The president’s role is to:

  • direct the business of the Tribunal (including determining the places and times for sittings of the Tribunal);
  • facilitate the adoption of good administrative practices for the conduct of the business of the Tribunal, and
  • give directions about, and participate in the development of, the practice and procedure to be followed by the Tribunal including the Tribunal rules and practice notes.

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