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.

Lodging an application for arbitration

Applications for arbitration are lodged online unless you are an exempt party such as an unrepresented worker, an unrepresented dependant or an uninsured employer. As an exempt party you can choose not to lodge your application online and lodge the appropriate form instead.

In order to lodge an application online, you will need to be registered with WorkCover WA Online. Once you have registered and verified your WorkCover WA Online account, complete and submit the online application, attaching any documents that support your case.

In certain limited circumstances, such as a system outage, the Registrar may authorise an application form being submitted by all applicants or their representatives where applicable.

If required, a printable version of the Application for Arbitration (Form 150) or Application for Arbitration – Workplace Fatality (Form 150A) is available to download from the Arbitration rules & forms page. You can lodge your application:

  • by email – arbitration@workcover.wa.gov.au
  • in person – WorkCover WA, 2 Bedbrook Place, Shenton Park, WA
  • by post – Workers’ Compensation Arbitration Service, WorkCover WA, 2 Bedbrook Place, Shenton Park, WA, 6008

If you need assistance completing an arbitration application, contact Advice and Assistance on 1300 794 744.

Documents related to current arbitration applications should also be uploaded using the online system unless you are an exempt party and you have chosen not to use the online system or where the Registrar has issued a specific exemption. In these cases the above alternative methods of lodgement can be used.

In accordance with Rule 12 of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Arbitration Rules 2011, a document is taken to have been lodged –

  • if the whole document is received before 5.00pm on a particular working day, on that day; or
  • otherwise, on the next working day.

Conditions of lodgement by email (Rule 10)

The approved email address for lodging documents with the Arbitration Service is arbitration@workcover.wa.gov.au

Documents not complying with the following conditions may be returned to the sender and considered to have not been lodged.

  1. An email by which documents are lodged under this rule must:
    1. state the sender’s name; and
    2. state a telephone number by which the sender can be contacted; and
    3. list and describe the documents being lodged by the email.
  2. The subject line must include the arbitration case reference number unless the document lodged is a new arbitration application.
  3. Any documents lodged must relate to a current or proposed (in the case of an arbitration application) matter before the Arbitration Service.
  4. Documents submitted by email must be in pdf, tiff, jpeg or png format and be less than 20MB.

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.