QCAT COVID-19 Update

Last updated 15 May 2020

Minor Amendments to QCAT Practice Directions No. 4 and 5 of 2020

15 May 2020

QCAT Practice No. 4 of 2020 – Minor Update (PDF, 1011.1 KB)

A minor amendment has been made to QCAT Practice Direction No. 4 of 2020 at [6] to reflect that: “Any other hearing (including appeal) which has been listed to be heard at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane on any date between 6 April 2020 and 31 July 2020 shall be adjourned to a date to be fixed”.

QCAT Practice Direction No. 5 of 2020 – Minor Update (PDF, 2.1 MB)

There have been two minor amendments made to QCAT Practice Direction No. 5 of 2020 at [6] and [8]:

6. Within 14 days of receiving the Hearing Advice, the applicant must EITHER:

a) file in the Tribunal any further evidence (including any affidavit or statement) which is proposed to be relied on at the hearing, together with the applicant’s written submissions in support of its claim, and give a copy of each such document to the respondent, and

b) inform the Tribunal by email (copied by email to the respondent) of the date on which these documents were given to the respondent,

OR

c) inform the Tribunal by email (copied by email to the respondent) that the applicant has no further evidence (including any affidavit or statement)  to be relied on at the hearing, and that the applicant is ready to proceed to hearing.

8. If a respondent has filed a counter-application against the applicant, then within 14 days of being given the respondent’s documents and submissions referred to in paragraph 7, the applicant must EITHER:

a) file in the Tribunal any further evidence (including any affidavit or statement) which is proposed to be relied on by the applicant at the hearing in relation to the counter-application, together with the applicant’s written submissions in response to the counter-application, and give a copy of each such document to the respondent, and

b) inform the Tribunal by email (copied by email to the respondent) of the date on which these documents were given to the respondent;

OR

c) inform the Tribunal by email (copied by email to the applicant) that the respondent has no further evidence (including any affidavit or statement) to be relied on in relation to the counter-application, and that the respondent is ready to proceed to hearing.

New QCAT Practice Directions in response to COVID-19

28 April 2020

Two new QCAT practice directions (5 & 6) have been issued that set out procedures for Urgent and Non-Urgent Minor Civil Disputes. There has also been a minor amendment to Practice Direction 3.

Summaries of the changes can be found below and the full details of the practice directions can be found on the following link: https://www.qcat.qld.gov.au/resources/practice-directions#2020

QCAT Practice Direction No. 3 of 2020 – Minor Amendment 

A minor amendment has been made to QCAT Practice Direction No. 3 of 2020 to reflect that Practice Direction No. 3 does not apply to Urgent Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy Matters to which the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 applies.

QCAT Practice Direction No. 5 of 2020

The purpose of Practice Direction No. 5 of 2020 is to facilitate the hearing of non-urgent Minor Civil Dispute matters, including the matters which were adjourned under Practice Direction No. 4 of 2020.

  • The hearings are to be conducted by telephone or videoconference, unless the presiding member or adjudicator has agreed otherwise.
  • All matters which require a hearing date to be allocated, including any matter that was adjourned under Practice Direction No. 4 of 2020, must be sent a copy of the Hearing Advice, Practice Direction 5 of 2020 and the Information Sheet.
  • The applicant must, within 14 days of receiving the Hearing Advice, comply with paragraph 6 of the Practice Direction. If the applicant does not comply, the matter will not proceed to a hearing.
  • The respondent must, within 14 days of receiving the applicant’s documents (in compliance with paragraph 6 of the Practice Direction), comply with paragraph 7 of the Practice Direction. If the respondent does not comply, the matter will proceed to a hearing not less than 21 days after the applicant’s compliance with paragraph 6 of the Practice Direction.
  • The preferred method of filing documents is by email to the relevant registry’s email address.
  • The Practice Direction does not apply to any non-urgent minor civil dispute proceeding filed in a regional Magistrates Court registry which is to be heard by a Magistrate.

QCAT Practice Direction No. 6 of 2020

The purpose of Practice Direction No. 6 of 2020 is to provide for the process for all Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy applications to which the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 applies.

Otherwise, Practice Direction 3 of 2020 applies and continues to apply to Urgent Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy Applications which are not COVID MCD Tenancy Matters.

  • Relevant to all minor civil dispute tenancy applications which the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 applies. The hearings are to be conducted by telephone or videoconference, unless the presiding member or adjudicator has agreed otherwise.
  • Applications must include:
    • a completed COVID Tenancy Checklist (noting that this checklist must be completed for all residential tenancy applications during the COVID-19 emergency period).
    • all material to be relied on as evidence at the hearing (any necessary supplementary material, eg up to date rent ledger, must be emailed to the relevant registry by 4.00 pm on the afternoon before the hearing.)
    • the respondent’s last known address and telephone number.
  • If a tenant or resident is claiming to have suffered excessive hardship because of the COVID-19 emergency, they must include in their material, all evidence which they propose to rely on which establishes such hardship.
  • If the respondent intends on participating in the hearing, the respondent must email the relevant registry advising of their best contact number and attach all material they wish to rely on.

Retail Tenancy Disputes update

24 April 2020

On Wednesday 22 April the Queensland Parliament passed the The COVID -19 Emergency Response Act, which includes reference to changes for retail tenancy disputes. The Act received assent on 24 April 2020.

In summary the Act:

  • Provides for the appointment of a Small Business Commissioner
  • The Commissioner’s functions include assisting small business in reaching informal resolution for disputes relating to small business leases & administer a mediation process prescribed by regulation for small business tenancies.

QCAT’s jurisdiction as to retail shop leases disputes comes from the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 and relates to retail tenancy disputes. A retail tenancy dispute is a dispute under or about the use or occupation of a leased shop under a retail shop lease. Only certain commercial leases are retail shop leases.

QCAT has jurisdiction to decide retail tenancy disputes where the amount in dispute is up to $750,000.00. This jurisdiction is currently unaffected by the COVID Act.

In relation to other commercial leases:

  1. The Tribunal may have jurisdiction in relation to a claim for a debt or liquidated demand arising under a commercial lease (which is not a retail shop leases) for an amount not exceeding $25,000  as a Minor Civil Dispute (MCD) eg a claim for outstanding rent;
  2. The Tribunal may also have jurisdiction in relation to a  claim for unliquidated damages arising under a commercial lease (which is not a retail shop lease) for an amount not exceeding $25,000.00 as a MCD. Such claims may be a trader/consumer or a trader/trader dispute. A commercial lease dispute may be a minor civil dispute on the basis that the leasing of premises is a ‘supply of goods’ and the provision of services to leased commercial premises includes ‘providing services’. In such circumstances, a lessor who engages in trade and commerce is a trader for the purposes of the QCAT Act. It may be that a lessee is also a trader in such circumstances. In those circumstances, such a dispute might be an MCD.
  3. This jurisdiction as to commercial leases (other than retail shop leases) is also not currently affected by the COVID Act.

Changes to QCAT Residential Tenancy Disputes

Residential tenancy disputes are dealt with by QCAT under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. In regional Queensland, the Magistrates Court deals with these disputes, acting as QCAT.

On 22 April 2020, the Queensland Parliament’s Legislative Assembly passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act and the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020.

The Act and Regulation received assent on 24 April and the laws are now in effect.

In broad terms, the Regulation:

  • Declares a moratorium on evicting a tenant who fails to pay rent if the failure relates to the tenant suffering excessive hardship because of the COVID-19 emergency, backdated to 29 March 2020;
  • Sets up a framework for the Residential Tenancy Authority to conciliate disputes about unpaid rent before any application to QCAT; and
  • Also provides greater protections for tenants experiencing domestic and family violence.

Further information can be sourced from the Residential Tenancies Authority, by phoning 1300 366 311 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. or by visiting their website at www.rta.qld.gov.au.

Alternatively, you can visit the Queensland Government’s Residential Rental Hub, which is available online at www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub.

Summary of QCAT Practice Directions 2, 3 and 4 commencing Monday, 30 March 2020*

Three new practice directions have been issued to set out procedures across the guardianship, urgent minor civil dispute (MCD) and other QCAT jurisdictions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 virus, particularly to:

  • Provide for telephone and, in exceptional circumstances, in person hearings.
  • How material is filed, that would otherwise be filed in person at hearing.
  • Types of matters to be adjourned, until further notice.

NOTE: THESE ARRANGEMENTS DO NOT APPLY TO QCAT MATTERS HEARD BY MAGISTRATES IN REGIONAL CENTRES.

Arrangements for Guardianship matters (please refer to QCAT Practice Direction No. 2 of 2020 for more detailed instructions):

  • All hearings will be by phone or videoconferencing except in exceptional authorised circumstances.
  • Any person authorised to appear in person must sign a COVID-19 personal statement.
  • All documents to be relied on at hearing must be filed by email.

Arrangements for urgent Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy matters (please refer to QCAT Practice Direction No. 3 of 2020 for more detailed instructions):

  • Urgent MCD Tenancy hearings heard by QCAT adjudicators at 259 Queen St Brisbane and at south east Queensland Magistrates Courthouses are to be conducted by telephone except in exceptional authorised circumstances.
  • Any person authorised to appear in person must sign a COVID-19 personal statement.
  • Applications must include:
    • all material to be relied on at the hearing. (Any necessary supplementary material, eg up to date rent ledger, must be emailed to the relevant Registry by 4.00 pm on the afternoon before the hearing.)
    • the respondent’s last known address and telephone number.
  • If the respondent intends on participating in the hearing, the respondent must email the relevant Registry advising of their best contact number and attach all material they wish to rely on.

Arrangements for ALL other QCAT matters (please refer to QCAT Practice Direction No. 4 of 2020 for more detailed instructions):

  • All non-urgent Minor Civil Disputes listed for hearing are adjourned to a date to be fixed. This includes:
    • Non-urgent residential tenancy disputes
    • Minor debt disputes
    • Consumer disputes
    • Dividing fence disputes
  • In the week commencing 30 March 2020, all other hearings, including appeals, listed for hearing at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane will be by telephone or adjourned until further notice.
  • Any other hearing, including an appeal, listed for hearing at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane from 6 April 2020 will be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • All other hearings by QCAT members or adjudicators at south east Queensland Magistrates Courthouses from 30 March 2020 are to be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • Any adjourned matters will be reviewed and assessed to see if an urgent telephone hearing is required, a non-urgent telephone hearing is needed, can be decided on available material (“on the papers”), or placed on a list awaiting a new hearing date.
  • All Directions Hearings and Compulsory Conferences will be by telephone.
  • Any mediations conducted by the Dispute Resolution Branch will be by telephone. All other mediations will be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • To file an urgent application OTHER than a Guardianship or Urgent Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy application, first email the Registry enquiriesqcat@justice.qld.gov.au to make arrangements for the filing of the application.
  • To file a non-urgent application, file in the usual manner as described on QCAT’s website: www.qcat.qld.gov.au/applications/lodging-your-application-and-forms

*These changes do not apply to matters heard before Magistrates in Queensland courts. Please refer to the Queensland Courts website for information about particular locations as they may change between courts.

Health advice

For the most up to date information about COVID-19 please visit the Queensland Health website www.health.qld.gov.au