VCAT prepares for post-COVID with new partnership
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has partnered with a dispute resolution platform to assist in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An online dispute resolution platform will support the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s (VCAT) planning and environment division to implement a digitised process to host mediation and hearing sessions virtually as it grapples with a backlog of cases.
With assistance from Immediation, VCAT will hear up to 1,000 matters on the platform through the use of its purpose-built videoconferencing program.
Immediation founder and managing director Laura Keily said the COVID-19 pandemic has driven the uptake of technology as courts attempt to keep hearing the cases: “The current global climate has required industries that have traditionally been slow to adopt technology to reassure their ways of working.”
VCAT CEO Mary Amiridis said the tribunal was pleased with the partnership so that it could “implement the use of these new technologies to ensure Victorians continue to have access to justice during these challenging times”.
The videoconferencing functionality has the capabilities of the face-to-face mediation usually employed by courts and includes separate virtual rooms to allow the mediator and plaintiff to converse privately. It has been built by experts with experience within the legal community and in facilitating secure platforms.
Ms Keily, a corporate barrister with over two decades of experience, said the outbreak of COVID-19 goes beyond the immediate future and the adoption of platforms like this is likely to continue long into the future.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an educational period,” Ms Keily said. “Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll see the [normalisation] of platforms like Immediation, as both the legal industry and the community at large realise the role technology can play in the delivery of justice.
“It’s a well overdue move that will benefit all.”