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Federal jurisdiction

A federal jurisdiction in the Magistrates’ Court that generally deals with proceedings between residents of different states that cannot be heard in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria now hears federal jurisdiction proceedings under Part 3A of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998.

Amended legislation came into effect from 29 November 2021, following a Victorian Court of Appeal decision preventing the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) from exercising federal jurisdiction.

Federal jurisdiction applies in a number of situations, including proceedings:

  • between states, residents of different states or a state and resident of another state
  • where the Commonwealth is suing or being sued
  • involving the Constitution or its interpretation
  • under any laws made by the Commonwealth Parliament.

For example, it often arises in residential tenancies proceedings where a rental provider (landlord) resides interstate.

There is no federal jurisdiction problem if the proceedings involve a corporation, a state political entity, a resident of a territory or a resident of another country.

Lodging an application

You do not need to lodge your matter with VCAT first, you may apply directly to the Magistrates’ Court.

To lodge your application, you must file a Form 10A Complaint or Summons and, if applicable, an accompanying annexure - available below.

For example, if your matter involves the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, your form must be lodged with a Residential Tenancies Annexure.


You must your application on the other party by:

  • delivering it personally or sending it by post to their last known residential or business address
  • sending via electronic communication. An electronic address such as email can only be used to serve documents if it has previously been used between parties to communicate or if the intended recipient has previously provided it as the means of communication to the court.

Refer to the Magistrates’ Court (Miscellaneous Civil Proceedings) Rules 2020.

Federal jurisdiction and interstate service

If the lives interstate, you must comply with the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992. This means, in addition to serving a copy of your application, you must also serve the respondent with a Form 1 Notice to Defendant

Interstate service and urgent residential tenancies matters

The Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 provides an interstate respondent with a 21 day notice period in which to file a response. As per Commonwealth legislation, this timeframe overtakes any urgent listing period contained in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

If your matter is an urgent matter under the Residential Tenancies Act (for example, an application for urgent repairs) you must make an application to the court to reduce the 21 day notice period given to the respondent to allow your matter to be listed urgently.

You can make this application by filing a Form 46A and supporting affidavit with court registry. This should be submitted at the time of making your initiating application (Form 10A and Residential Tenancies Annexure).

Defending a complaint

To defend a complaint or , you must file a Form 10B Notice of Reply response within 14 days. If the matter is identified as urgent, a formal response is not required. The Form 10A Complaint or Summons will indicate a time for appearance before the court, which you must attend. 


Any fees for your application to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria federal jurisdiction will be equivalent to those at VCAT. Refer to the
court fees ready reckoner.

If you hold a current Health Care Card you are not required to pay a filing fee for initiating a residential tenancies matter. You must attach a copy of your Health Care Card to your application in order to avoid paying the fee.

If you are not a Health Care Card holder, but paying the fee would cause you financial hardship, the  can waive a fee in the civil jurisdiction.
An application to waive the fee form must be filed with your application
You are not required to file this application if you are a Health Care Card holder.

Resources and further information

Self-represented litigants can contact the court’s Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator by emailing

Refer to the Publications section below for useful links and contacts including VCAT and Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Last updated on 01 Feb 2023
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