Arbitration is a formal proceeding at which evidence is heard and a legally qualified Arbitrator makes a final determination.

The primary role of the Workers’ Compensation Arbitration Service is to make legally binding determinations regarding workers’ compensation disputes.

A dispute must have been conciliated by the Workers’ Compensation Conciliation Service (or a certificate issued by the Director of Conciliation advising the matter is not suitable for conciliation) before an application can be made to the Arbitration Service.

Arbitration can be a complex, costly and time-consuming process. Parties are encouraged to resolve disputes, independently of the Arbitration Service, at any time in the process.

Applications for arbitration are made online. Unrepresented workers, unrepresented dependants making dependency claims or uninsured employers can choose not to lodge their applications online and can lodge an Application for Arbitration (Form 150).

For more information on the Arbitration Service and lodging an application for arbitration, see the Guide to the Workers’ Compensation Arbitration Service.

Parties to a dispute are entitled to have a legal practitioner or registered agent represent them. Registered agents are approved and regulated by WorkCover WA – see the current list of registered agents.

See the full conciliation and arbitration Process Chart.

The Workers’ Compensation Arbitration Service consists of a Registrar and Arbitrators (assisted by a team of administrative support staff) who determine matters in dispute in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 and Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Arbitration Rules 2011, without attempting to resolve it by conciliation.

Arbitrators are legal practitioners who make determinations (called orders) based upon evidence, facts and law. Arbitrators:

  • are not to attempt to resolve any matter in dispute by conciliation
  • may confirm, vary or revoke a payment direction made by a conciliation officer
  • are not permitted to speak to parties about the dispute outside of an official proceeding (called a hearing)
  • make final and binding decisions upon parties.
Rules and forms for commencing and progressing arbitration in the workers’ compensation and injury management scheme in Western Australia are available on the Arbitration rules and forms page.

Practice Notes are a common regulatory tool used in most courts and tribunals. They are a less formal, directive instrument used to regulate practice and procedure. Practice Notes are typically descriptive procedural documents relating to a specific issue.

Section 294 of the Act authorises the Registrar, Arbitration to issue Practice Notes about the practice and procedure of arbitrators. The purpose of issuing Practice Notes is to improve the efficiency, consistency and functioning of the Service.

Practice Notes

A list of Standard Orders to assist parties with formulating consent orders in appropriate circumstances can be found here.

A determination of an arbitrator on findings of fact and law is binding upon the parties.

An appeal may be made to the District Court of Western Australia:

  • where a question of law is involved and defined financial thresholds are met; or
  • where a question of law is involved and, in the opinion of the District Court the matter is of such importance that, in the public interest, an appeal should lie.

In any other case, leave to appeal may be granted where a question of law is involved.

An appeal to the District Court must be made within 28 days from the date on which the Arbitrator provides the parties with the written reasons for the determination. The District Court may affirm, vary, quash or substitute the original Arbitrator decision.

For more information, see the Appeal court decisions page.