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NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has the power to review administrative decisions made by NSW government agencies in a broad and diverse range of matters. It was created under the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013. The Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997 to gives NCAT exclusive jurisdiction to review “administratively reviewable decisions”.

NCAT’s operations are subject to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Regulations 2013, which includes fees, witness allowances and expenses; and the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2014, which governs tribunal procedures.


Section 3 of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 states NCAT is to be the single point of access for most tribunal services in the state.

The Act gives the tribunal the power to make and review decisions, and determine appeals.

It aims to ensure the tribunal:

  • is accessible and responsive to the needs of all its users;
  • is able to resolve real issues in proceedings justly, quickly, cheaply and with as little formality as possible;
  • makes decisions that are timely, fair, consistent and of a high quality;
  • is accountable and has processes that are open and transparent;
  • can engender public confidence in its decisions.


NCAT has jurisdiction to conduct administrative reviews, appeals, and enforcement action. The Supreme Court can refuse to hear a matter if it is satisfied a review of the decision is available in NCAT under the Act.


NACT has four divisions: Administrative and Equal Opportunity, Consumer and Commercial, Guardianship and Occupational.

Administrative and Equal Opportunity

This division covers such matters as Freedom of Information, privacy, community services, firearm licensing and state revenue. There is a general right to legal representation in this division.

Consumer and Commercial

This division deals with matters including home building, motor vehicles, retirement villages, social housing, strata and community schemes, and residential tenancies.

There is no right to legal representation in this division, except under the Retail Leases Act 1994. An appeal from this division requires leave from an appeal panel and proof of a substantial miscarriage of justice.

The Fair Trading Act 1987 allows NCAT to handle disputes for goods and services worth up to $40,000. NCAT can order that:

  • money be paid;
  • money owed does not have to paid;
  • goods or services be provided;
  • faulty goods be repaired or replaced;
  • a refund be made.

The Fair Trading Act 1987 allows NCAT to handle disputes for building work worth up to $500,000. Any building dispute must be referred to NSW Fair Trading first. A letter from that agency, to show a resolution was not reached, is required in an NCAT application.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 allows NCAT to intervene in tenancy disputes of up to $15,000, or $30,000 in the case of a bond. Disputes typically relate to unpaid rent, bonds, termination of leases, and repairs.

The Retail Leases Act 1994 allows NCAT to intervene in a retail tenancy claim up to $750,000. Mediation must be attempted with the NSW Small Business Commissioner before permission will be granted to apply to NCAT.


This division covers such areas as the appointment of a financial manager; review of enduring guardianship; review of power of attorney and revocation; and medical or dental treatment  Leave for legal representation is required for most matters in this section.


This division relates to specific occupations, including taxi drivers, legal practitioners, health practitioners, architects, veterinarians and surveyors.


Application forms for an NCAT hearing are available on the tribunal’s website. Strict time limits apply.


An appeal can be made against an external decision, or against NCAT decisions.

Under Section 81 of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013, in determining an internal appeal, the tribunal can issue an order that:

  • the appeal be allowed or dismissed;
  • the decision under appeal be confirmed, affirmed or varied;
  • the decision under appeal be quashed or set aside;
  • the decision under appeal be quashed or set aside and another decision be substituted;
  • the whole matter, or part of it, be reconsidered by the tribunal, and new evidence be allowed.

Some tribunal decisions can be appealed to the Supreme, District or Land and Environment Court.

NCAT decisions

The tribunal must give notice of any decision it makes. If reasons are not provided, a party can request a written statement of reasons within 28 days of notice of the decision. The statement must include:

  • the findings on material questions of fact, referring to evidence used to make the findings;
  • the tribunal’s understanding of the law;
  • the reasoning for the conclusions.


The tribunal has power to penalise parties for providing false or misleading statements, contravening its orders, contempt, and contravening its civil penalty provisions.

If you have a dispute to be determined by a tribunal, or for advice on any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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