Case appraisal

Case appraisal is a process where a neutral third party, called a case appraiser, helps the parties resolve their dispute by providing a non-binding opinion on the facts and the likely outcomes. This non-binding opinion may also include advice regarding the parties’ next steps.

In the National Sports Tribunal (NST), the case appraiser is a specialist NST Member from the alternative dispute resolution list.

Case appraisal is a quick process, most suited to cases that:

  • are not complex
  • have minimal issues in dispute
  • have no witnesses
  • do not have lengthy evidence.

The opinion received in a case appraisal is not binding and you cannot use it as evidence in any other proceedings before the NST. After receiving the opinion the parties may wish to negotiate an agreement.

We hold all case appraisal conferences in private.

Reasons to use case appraisal

Case appraisal is a faster, less formal, more cost-effective and most likely quicker process than other dispute resolution methods.

Just like mediation and conciliation, you can use case appraisal for disputes over:

You cannot use case appraisal, conciliation or mediation for anti-doping disputes or appeals.

Case appraisal is different to mediation and conciliation. In mediation and conciliation, the main role of the NST Member is to help the parties reach an agreed resolution to their dispute.

In a case appraisal, the NST Member:

  • assesses the claims, statements and evidence of the parties
  • provides an opinion on the facts and likely outcomes should the dispute proceed to arbitration.

The NST Member provides their opinion orally, unless the parties agree before the case appraisal for the Member to provide it in writing. After the NST member provides their opinion, they may then help the parties settle the dispute if this seems to be possible.

The difference between case appraisal and arbitration is that in arbitration, the NST Member makes a binding and enforceable decision about the outcome. In case appraisal, the NST Member provides a non-binding opinion based on the material provided by the parties. Arbitration is a longer process as it involves preparing submissions, filing evidence, and hearings.

This means that there is no guarantee that case appraisal will deliver a resolution. However, the opinion shows the parties how they could resolve the dispute, from the point of view of an independent, objective third party. This might help the parties to resolve the dispute without the extra time and cost of arbitration, or even court litigation.

You cannot use anything that is said or done in a case appraisal in an arbitration, if the case appraisal fails to resolve the dispute.


Case appraisal costs $750. This fee covers processing, conducting the case appraisal and providing an oral opinion. Should parties wish to have a written opinion, an extra fee of $500 may apply.

Case appraisal process

See Our process for how we handle dispute resolution.

There are a few details specific to case appraisal:

  1. Before making an application for case appraisal (or mediation or conciliation) you should always talk to the other party/parties and seek their agreement. This is because case appraisal relies on the willingness of all parties to compromise and reach an agreed outcome to be successful.
  2. You then advise the NST that you wish to have your dispute resolved by case appraisal when you lodge an application with the Registry.
  3. Before we can formally accept an application for a case appraisal, either:
    • you must pay the application fee (the parties can decide how to split the application fee between them), or
    • apply for us to waive the fee on the grounds of financial hardship.
  4. Once we receive an application and accept it as valid, the Registry will organise a Preliminary Conference with the parties. During the Preliminary Conference, the CEO or their delegate will confirm that the parties are willing to proceed with case appraisal and work together with them to determine:
    • the matters in scope for the case appraisal
    • authority of the participants to settle the dispute
    • involved parties that have not been previously identified
    • the likely timeframes for conducting the case appraisal
    • the process to be followed for the case appraisal namely:
      • Each party will provide one written submission to the NST Registry within 48 hours of the Preliminary Conference. We limit submissions to 10 pages. The NST Registry will provide each party’s submission to the other involved parties concurrently once all have been received.
      • The NST Member will conduct the case appraisal via teleconference or videoconference. It will usually run for around 1 to 2 hours.
      • Case appraisal will result in a non-binding opinion about the case.
      • The NST Member’s opinion cannot be relied upon or used as evidence by the parties or other individuals in any other proceeding at the NST.
      • Usually, the NST Member will tell the parties their opinion immediately following the case appraisal meeting. This NST Member gives this opinion orally unless the parties have requested a written opinion.
    • whether or not the parties would like the NST Member to provide a written opinion
    • additional costs (where relevant)
    • the allocation of an NST Member to conduct the case appraisal.
  5. After the Preliminary Conference, the NST Registry will facilitate the formal allocation of an NST Member to be the case appraiser, either on agreement of the parties and the NST CEO, or if the parties can’t agree, determined by the NST CEO.
  6. The parties will agree the terms of the case appraisal in writing in a Case Appraisal Agreement – usually via email, due to the rapid nature of this process.
  7. The NST Member will then conduct the case appraisal. The case appraisal will in most cases be over teleconference or video conference. The NST Member facilitates it as an informal meeting, and may ask the parties questions to help form a final opinion in the matter.
  8. The parties cannot call witnesses during the case appraisal meeting.
  9. At the end of the case appraisal meeting, the NST Member states their opinion to the parties orally, unless the parties have agreed at the preliminary conference to have the opinion provided in writing.
  10. The opinion, regardless of whether it is oral or written, may include:
    • an opinion on the facts of the dispute
    • an opinion that the matter is too complex to resolve through case appraisal
    • an opinion regarding options for further dispute resolution if appropriate.

Considering if case appraisal is right for you

How complex is your matter? Are there a range of significant and complex issues that you and the other parties disagree on? If yes, you may wish to consider arbitration or conciliation.

How quickly would you like to receive an outcome to your case? Case appraisal is a rapid process. You will know the outcome immediately after the meeting, unless you have requested that the opinion be in writing.

Are you happy for the outcome of the case appraisal to be an opinion that is not binding on the parties? The NST Member can only provide a non-binding opinion on the matter. If you would prefer to receive an outcome that you and the other participant/s must abide by, then you may prefer arbitration. You also cannot rely on or otherwise use a case appraisal opinion as evidence in any other case before us.

How much are you willing to pay to resolve this case? The cost of undertaking a case appraisal is $750. If you would like to receive a written opinion, there may be an additional cost of $500.

Do you need to call witnesses or make detailed written or oral arguments? We do not permit witnesses in a case appraisal. We limit written statements to 10 pages for each party to the dispute.

Will you need a lawyer or advocate? Like all proceedings at the NST, the parties may be self-represented and do not require legal assistance. Case appraisal is the most informal and advisory of all the dispute resolution services we offer. As such, it may be a more comfortable and accessible process for self-represented parties.