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.

If your debt involved 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 consider seeking independent legal advice regarding the most appropriate venue to commence proceedings.  The Industrial Court of Queensland also provides fact sheets that may be of assistance.

However, 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.

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. The Department of Justice and Attorney General provides a free mediation service through its Dispute Resolution Branch
  • 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.
Any description of QCAT's jurisdiction on this website is general information only and is not intended to precisely define the types of applications that QCAT has the power to decide. QCAT's jurisdiction is determined by the relevant legislation. If you are unsure about your legal rights you should seek legal advice. Any actions taken to resolve your dispute should be determined by your individual circumstances.
Last reviewed
27 November 2013
Last updated
4 April 2014

Rate this page

  1. How useful was the information on this page?