The reforms proposed in the review of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) should be adopted to improve the tribunal's effectiveness, according to the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).
LIV President Steven Stevens made the comments following the findings of a review by Justice Kevin Bell, including the new measures to protect the rights of self-represented litigants.
"We are pleased that [Justice Bell's] review has adopted many LIV recommendations, including protecting the rights of self represented litigants," he said.
LIV submitted a number of proposals that were adopted including the request that there are no increases on the existing restrictions of the legal representation; a reminder that legal practitioners were necessary to assist parties to interpret technical legislation; and that improving legal representation at VCAT would resolve the imbalance of power between self-represented parties and legally represented parties.
In the review, Justice Bell noted that VCAT needed to increase its capacity to provide assistance to self represented parties "which will not be achieved by imposing further restrictions on legal representation."
An original proposal to restrict legal practitioners from disputes involving less than $50,000 was rejected by the LIV because it did not accurately reflect the serious effect this amount could have on people's lives and livelihood, including bankruptcy and homelessness.