The Appeal Panel in NCAT has recently handed down 2 important decisions regarding the award of costs and “special circumstances”.
In Gelder v The Owners Strata Plan 38308  NSWCATAP 109 and Bruce v Knight (No. 2)  NCWCATAP 254 (in which we acted for the successful appellants), the Appeal Panel found that special circumstances exist, and costs can be awarded, if the dispute is “complex” and significant or important to the parties.
Parties generally do not select the circumstances of their dispute and it is interesting that simple disputes are cost-free, but complex disputes are not. Indeed, complex disputes would be inherently less capable of resolution and more properly the subject of a tribunal decision.
The question of whether NCAT should be a cost-free jurisdiction is subject to debate. These decisions undoubtedly make it easier to get a costs order if you are successful and you can show that your case is complex and important.