Skip links and keyboard navigation

Debt disputes

Debt disputes

What is a debt dispute?

Debt disputes involve disagreements with another person, business or company about a fixed or agreed sum of money, valued up to and including $25,000. Examples of a debt dispute include:

  • money owed for the removal of minor overhanging branches
  • unpaid invoice or account
  • rent arrears, other than arrears of rent for a residential tenancy
  • work done and/or goods supplied with the cost having been agreed beforehand
  • money lent and not repaid
  • IOUs
  • dishonoured cheques.

Your claim may be a consumer and trader dispute or other minor civil dispute if it involves a dispute against another person, trader or company and:

  • is arising out of a contract for the supply of goods and/or services, or
  • involves the repair of a defect in a motor vehicle, or
  • involves damage to property caused by or from the use of a motor vehicle, and
  • is valued up to and including $25,000.

Unpaid wages

If your debt involves a claim related to unpaid wages, QCAT may not have jurisdiction to consider your application.

The tribunal's decision Ervin v Smipat Pty Ltd t/as LJ Hooker Burleigh Heads [2013] QCATA 153 has more information about this issue.

You may wish to get independent legal advice. 

How can I resolve the dispute?

You should try and resolve your dispute directly with the other party by contacting them, holding a face-to-face meeting or writing to them. Once you have reached agreement, you should write to the other party confirming your agreement. It is recommended that all parties sign the agreement and keep a copy.

If you are unable to reach a satisfactory outcome you can choose to:

  • invite the other party to attend mediation which is a way of settling a dispute without legal action. A free mediation service is available through Dispute Resolution Centres
  • apply to the Magistrates Court to resolve your dispute, however resolving your dispute in the courts may take longer and cost more than using QCAT
  • apply to QCAT to resolve your dispute.

Descriptions of QCAT's jurisdiction on this website are general information only. They do not definitively describe the types of applications on which QCAT can make decisions. The relevant legislation determines QCAT's jurisdiction. If you are unsure about your legal rights, you should seek legal advice. Your individual circumstances should guide any actions taken to resolve your dispute.

We cannot provide legal advice

As part of an independent tribunal, QCAT registry staff cannot provide legal advice.

Registry staff can explain and answer questions about how QCAT works and its processes.

Registry staff cannot help with:

* whether or not you should submit an application
* whether your application is under the correct jurisdiction
* if you should lodge an appeal or a counter-application
* recommending a specific lawyer to assist you
* how to word your application, supporting documents or what to say at a proceeding
* contacting a QCAT member or adjudicator directly
* predicting likely outcomes of a case or appeal
* helping you to prepare your case
* advising what orders/decisions you should seek
* enforcing an order or decision of the tribunal
* advising exact timeframes for resolution of a matter – this depends on your individual matter.

Last reviewed
18 April 2017
Last updated
18 April 2017

Rate this page

  1. How useful was the information on this page?