NCAT consists of the following 4 divisions:
- Administrative and Equal Opportunity;
- Consumer and Commercial;
- Occupational & Regulatory; and
The integration of the tribunals is intended to:
- improve accessibility for tribunal users. Establishing this “super-tribunal” should ensure consistent client services standards and allow a broader geographical reach than was previously the case with smaller tribunals;
- improve efficiency. The combined tribunals can be delivered with common infrastructure and administrative support.This should reduce the overall cost of delivery of the services; and
- increase the accountability of tribunals. Combining the tribunal operations aims to increase the transparency of decisions and quality of decision-making. Standards, processes and professional development opportunities are to be uniform and improved with the new tribunal and this should result in a framework for better decisions and operation.
One of the key changes for NCAT is the introduction of an internal merits appeal mechanism. Under many pre-existing tribunals the only right of appeal was to the court system. The complexity and cost of appealing to the court system often meant that such appeals could not be pursued. Introducing an internal merits appeal provides a more cost-effective and accessible method for decision review.
Given its early stage of operation, it remains to be seen whether NCAT will operate effectively as a consolidated tribunal. There are inevitably challenges to be faced by the tribunal as a result of the wide and varied nature of the matters previously dealt with in separate tribunals.