QCAT may ask you to prepare and submit documents and material to prove your case. This is called your evidence. Whether you are the applicant or respondent, it is important that you understand what evidence is and how best to prepare it appropriately for the QCAT decision-maker.
QCAT staff cannot advise you what particular evidence you should file as this is considered legal advice.
What is evidence?
Evidence describes, explains, demonstrates or supports a party’s claims about what happened in the matter. It is the body of facts and information you collect and submit to support and prove your argument. QCAT will make a final decision in the matter based on the evidence presented.
Your evidence can be in various forms such as:
- written statements or affidavits by a person or witness in which the person describes what they did, saw, said or heard
- written documents which support what you say or what was agreed to, such as a written contract, plans or maps
- financial records such as bank statements, copies of invoices, bills or receipts
- letters or other correspondence
- photos or videos that support your claim or prove an aspect of it (rules apply see below)
- expert reports from professionals such as a doctor or an engineer; and
- oral evidence provided at hearing
How is evidence given to QCAT?
There are two ways evidence is given to QCAT. Evidence is given in writing or orally.
Written evidence is usually given to QCAT before the final hearing of your matter. Written evidence comes in various forms, including affidavits, statutory declarations, statements and other documents.
Giving your written evidence to QCAT before your final proceeding allows QCAT to consider it and request further evidence if required. It also allows all parties to respond and prepare for the final hearing.
If you want a witness to appear at your hearing, a written statement usually must be filed first otherwise the witness may not be able to attend the hearing.
Oral evidence is usually given at the final hearing of the matter. If required, the oral evidence must be provided under oath. The QCAT decision-maker may allow each party to:
- call a person to give evidence or give evidence themselves; and
- cross-examine, question and re-question a witness
The QCAT decision-maker may also on their own initiative:
- call a person to give oral evidence
- examine a witness on oath
- examine or question a witness to obtain information; or
- order a witness to answer questions relevant to the proceeding, unless the person has a reasonable excuse
Preparing your evidence for QCAT
This is your opportunity to present your evidence to QCAT to support your case. It is important to read through the below guide carefully to understand what is required of you when filing evidence.
QCAT looks at the evidence to decide each case. It is solely your decision as to what particular evidence you present to QCAT.
The evidence you provide should be relevant to your case and directly link to the arguments you are making or arguing against. Try your best to be clear and concise.
QCAT may also place some restrictions on evidence and witnesses. For example, if enough information has been presented to enable a decision to be made, QCAT may not allow the parties to present more information. QCAT will advise you of this as the matter progresses
In most cases, QCAT will provide instructions on when your evidence must be filed by including compliance dates. QCAT calls these instructions ‘Directions’.
Directions are QCAT’s way of communicating with the parties about when you can file evidence and what form it should be in. The directions may also request you to provide your list of witnesses, if required, and notify you of your hearing dates so you can prepare.
If you filed your evidence when responding but missed something or want to file more, the QCAT decision-maker can allow the parties further time to file evidence and other material before the final hearing. If you need to amend evidence you have already filed before the final hearing, the QCAT decision-maker can also consider this request. To make these requests you should consider filing an application for directions.
It is important that the evidence you present to QCAT is clear, concise and understandable. To assist the QCAT decision-maker and other parties to understand your evidence, you should do the following:
- provide statements or affidavits for each of your witnesses
- type and number each page of your statements
- date and sign your statements and submissions
- have your statements witnessed if required
- number any attachments to your statements and clearly refer to them in your statements
- ensure your case number is on your material
- keep your evidence neat and tidy and in chronological order
- submit the correct number of copies of your material requested by QCAT
- if large and detailed, provide your material in white folders if possible; and
- use the template guides to prepare your evidence in the suggested format below
While you can file any evidence to support your case, sometimes QCAT may ask for specific documents to be filed in a specific format.
To assist you, the below table lists some of the common document types QCAT may request in the directions issued to you. Templates or guides about how to prepare these in the correct format have also been included.
(Please note you are not required to file every document in the below list, only the documents as requested in the directions issued to you)
The preparation of statements is the main part of your case. A statement is a written account of the facts and events of your case. Statements from you, as an applicant or respondent, and any other witnesses will form the evidence you intend to rely on to support your case at QCAT. Any attachments you include must be numbered and explained in the statement.
An affidavit is a statement of written facts which the maker either swears or affirms to be true before a qualified witness. This is essentially the paper-based version of swearing upon the bible or making an affirmation in a hearing before giving verbal evidence. The rules in relation to giving an oath apply. Witness statements preferably should be a sworn document in the form of an affidavit.
Submissions are your legal argument. Submissions are different to statements of evidence or affidavits. Statements of evidence are about facts. Written submissions are your opportunity to argue your case. They allow you to identify the law that you believe applies to the facts and explain how you say the law applies to the facts of your case.
There is no template required for drafting submissions. You can simply draft your submissions in the matter in a normal document which you sign and date. Ensure you clearly name the document as submissions.
A Dispute Schedule is usually only requested in certain matter types. The Dispute Schedule is a template that is used to easily review the issues in dispute in the case. The schedule is used when there are more than a couple of issues related to your dispute.
The Dispute Schedule will ordinarily comprise the following columns: item number; item description; applicant’s position (in summary); respondent’s position (in summary).
For example, there may be over 100 defects relating to a building dispute. The Dispute Schedule will set these out and comments will be made by both the applicant and respondent or their experts on each defect.
If you are required to provide this document in a dispute, QCAT will direct how the schedule is to be set out and what information should be included by yourself or your expert witnesses.
A party can call an expert in the relevant area of expertise to provide evidence to QCAT. QCAT may request the expert to produce an expert report or statement providing their expert information in the matter. The expert may be required to appear or prepare a joint report with the opposing expert.
You do not need to prepare anything however the attached practice direction sets out the rules for when an expert is engaged by you to provide evidence. Expert evidence at QCAT
Depending on your matter type and the complexity of your case, QCAT may ask you to provide a hearing plan before the final hearing. The hearing plan assists all parties attending the hearing and QCAT to understand how you plan to present your case.
You may be requested in the plan to provide names of witnesses to be called, the time each witness will be called and how long the witness will take. This will be set out in the directions issued to you.
Parties may be required to prepare a Hearing Book in their proceeding. If the QCAT decision-maker requests a Hearing book, usually it must be indexed and paginated (creating a numerical list of all the pages and numbering each page for easy reference).
The Hearing Book should include the following material in so far as each party intends to rely upon it:
The composition of the Hearing Book is important because it is the material in the Hearing Book which the QCAT decision maker will consider in determining the matter. The QCAT decision-maker may make any other directions in relation to a Hearing Book as required in your matter type.
If you do not have any independent evidence or have already filed your evidence when making your initial application or response do not worry. Just advise QCAT in writing as soon as possible or when you appear at the first directions hearing (initial meeting with QCAT) that you do not have further evidence to file.
Sometimes you may want to obtain documents from third parties and they will not provide it without a formal order from QCAT. If you require documents or material to be produced by a third party, you can ask QCAT to make orders. If a person is willing to produce a document to a party you do not need to apply.
You can apply to QCAT for an order directing another party or third party to produce documents or material you believe is evidence before the hearing. There are fees for making this type of application.
If you apply to QCAT for this type of order the material is usually produced to QCAT unless otherwise ordered. You must book a file inspection to view and consider the produced material, copy it and add it to your evidence yourself.
Material produced to QCAT by order is not automatically accepted as your evidence unless otherwise ordered by the QCAT decision-maker.
QCAT may charge a fee for these services. You also cannot assume QCAT will automatically grant the application to produce documents.
When filing your evidence at QCAT, please note that if you file evidence via email, it cannot exceed 30 pages. QCAT will not print the emailed material you file if it exceeds 30 pages and you must then file your material in hard copy.
Emailing your material also only counts as one copy. If you are required to file two copies of your material and you file one copy via email, you must send another copy to QCAT via post to follow.
It can take several days between when a document is mailed or emailed to QCAT, and when it makes its way to the QCAT file. Therefore, you should ensure you file any material at least 5 business days in advance, and in accordance with the dates in the directions issued by QCAT.
If you provide evidence to QCAT, you must serve a copy of that evidence on the other parties in the matter by the due date set by QCAT in the directions. If you are non-compliant, QCAT can make orders against you in the matter for non-compliance or determine the matter without the material or submissions.
When filing your evidence at QCAT in civil proceedings, you are required to file the number of copies as directed by QCAT in one of the following ways:
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
or at any local Magistrates Court
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
Electronic evidence in civil matters other than minor civil disputes
You may need to file electronic evidence in your case. QCAT will accept audio, video and photographs that are on a USB storage device. The USB storage device must be accompanied with a signed electronic evidence declaration available here. For more information about the requirements for filing audio, video and photographs, see Practice Direction No. 11 of 2020.
The USB storage device will be accepted if it is provided in one of the following file formats:
Electronic evidence formats
3GP,[a] ASF, AVI, DVR-MS, FLV, Matroska (MKV), MIDI,[b] QuickTime File Format, MP4, Ogg, OGM, WAV, MPEG-2 (ES, PS, TS, PVA, MP3), AIFF, Raw audio, Raw DV, MXF, VOB, RM, Blu-ray, DVD-Video, VCD, SVCD, CD Audio, DVB, HEIF, AVIF
AAC, AC3, ALAC, AMR,[a] DTS, DV Audio, XM, FLAC, It, MACE, MOD, Monkey's Audio, MP3, Opus, PLS, QCP, QDM2/QDMC, RealAudio,[c] Speex, Screamtracker 3/S3M, TTA, Vorbis, WavPack,[d] WMA (WMA 1/2, WMA 3 partially)
Digital Camcorder formats
MOD and TOD via USB
PDN, PNG, JPG, JPEG, JPE, JFIF, EXIF, JXR, WDP, WMP, BMP, DIB, RLE, GIF, TGA, DDS, TIF, TIFF, WEBP
Children and other special witnesses
QCAT may make special arrangements for a witness who is a child or a person who QCAT considers would be likely to:
- be disadvantaged because of their mental, intellectual or physical impairment or a relevant matter
- suffer severe emotional trauma; or
- be disadvantaged because they are intimidated
Special arrangements QCAT can make for children and special witnesses
QCAT may allow the following in relation to children and other special witnesses:
- that only particular persons may be present when the special witness gives evidence
- that only particular persons may ask questions of the special witness
- that the questioning of the special witness must be restricted to a stated time limit
- that a particular person must be obscured from the view of the special witness while the special witness is giving evidence
- that a particular person must be excluded from the place where the hearing is held while the special witness is giving evidence
- that the special witness must give evidence in a place other than where the hearing is held and in the presence of only stated persons or with stated persons being excluded from the room
- that a person, including, for example, a support person under section 91, must be present while the special witness is giving evidence to give emotional support to the special witness
- that an audio visual record of the evidence given by the special witness be made and that the record be viewed and heard at the hearing instead of the special witness giving direct testimony at the hearing
Please notify the QCAT registry as soon as possible if you require QCAT to consider special arrangements.
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Find out how to prepare for a civil proceeding you may be required to attend.
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