After an application is made in a minor civil dispute

Understand the QCAT minor civil dispute process and find out what happens after making an application.


QCAT will organise a proceeding

In a minor civil dispute QCAT will organise for the parties to attend an oral hearing, to present their case where a final decision is made. The length of time to wait for a hearing may be impacted by a range of factors such as the complexity of the particular case, parties’ non-compliance with directions and the availability of a venue. Information about hearing wait times is available here. The information provided is an average time to hearing only.

Depending on the type of dispute you are involved in, QCAT may provide an opportunity for parties to settle the matter or more clearly define the agreed and disputed issues by directing parties to attend a mediation before a hearing is scheduled.

Sometimes QCAT will conduct hearings by telephone or videoconference if appropriate and you will be notified of this.

The QCAT hearing will be held at the hearing rooms on level 10 at 259 Queen Street Brisbane, at a Magistrates Court or other appropriate venue in regional Queensland, or by telephone or video conference.

You can learn more about the types of proceedings you may be required to attend and how to prepare yourself here.


QCAT will send you a notice of a proceeding

Parties will be directed to attend various QCAT proceedings such as a mediation or final hearing.

Before the proceeding, QCAT will send a written notice to the parties with details of the proceeding type, date, time, place and what you need to do or bring to prepare yourself.

The person who is the applicant must attend or QCAT may decide to dismiss the application if a reasonable excuse is not provided for their absence.

The person who is the respondent in the matter must also attend or QCAT may make orders or decide the matter in the absence of the respondent.

If you cannot attend the hearing on the date set, you can apply to QCAT to have the hearing rescheduled. This is called an adjournment request. Please see step 6 below for more information on how to make this type of request.


QCAT requires a response from the respondent

QCAT provides the applicant with sealed copies of the initial application after it has been made.

A sealed copy of the initiating application must be given to the respondent (served) so they can respond to the claims.

If you are the respondent and have not received a copy of the initial application, please notify QCAT immediately.

If your case relates to a minor debt dispute, after the respondent has received the initial application the respondent must file a response within a certain timeframe. Otherwise, there is a risk QCAT may make a decision in favour of the applicant without further notice to the respondent.

If your case relates to a tenancy, consumer/trader or dividing fence dispute and you wish to make submissions or a counter-application, it is important you do so in a timely manner to put forward your side of the argument.

In either situation, it is important as the respondent in the matter that you respond, to put forward your side of the argument as early as possible before the hearing.

You can learn more about responding to an application, if your case type requires you to respond in a certain time frame and how to make a counter-application here.


Filing evidence and other material to support your case

In addition to the application and response, parties may wish to file submissions or other material to support their claim or response. This may include filing statements of evidence, witness statements, expert reports, electronic evidence, documents and submissions.

You may attach supporting material with your application or response.

You can also ask QCAT to order a third party or external agency to provide material they have in their possession or direct an unwilling witness to attend the hearing to give evidence.

You can learn more about preparing and filing your evidence and witnesses here.


QCAT may issue directions to the parties

A QCAT decision-maker may issue further directions to parties throughout the course of a minor civil dispute case to ensure parties have filed sufficient evidence and the matter is ready to proceed to a final hearing.

If directions are issued, the directions may include:

  • decisions about legal representation, non-publication orders and other miscellaneous matters
  • substituted service decisions, applications for remote conferencing and application for extensions of time or waiver of procedural requirements
  • scheduled dates for proceedings
  • notices requiring parties to produce material

QCAT may issue the directions with due dates that the parties must comply with. If a party does not comply with these due dates, delaying the process, QCAT can make orders against the non-compliant party such as:

  • orders to progress the matter to final hearing
  • orders to dismiss or strike out an application

If you are unable to comply with directions at any stage, you can request an extension to the compliance dates. Please see step 6 below for more information on how to make this type of request.

If you believe another party has not complied with the directions, notify QCAT in writing of the non-compliance.


You can make requests to QCAT before a final hearing

Parties may request QCAT to approve various actions or decisions during the course of the matter including:

  • extending compliance time limits
  • joining parties to a proceeding
  • substituted service decisions
  • attending proceedings by telephone or video proceedings
  • making orders/directions by consent
  • making non-publication or confidentiality orders
  • adjourning a proceeding to another date
  • requesting third parties to produce material or witnesses to attend proceedings (fees payable)

If you make one of these requests, you must serve the other parties with the application. Parties are normally asked to provide submissions on the request before QCAT makes a decision.

You can learn more about requesting these actions or decisions and the process to do so here


Legal representation and support can be requested

Parties may obtain legal advice or assistance at any stage throughout the course of their matter. Lawyers can help parties collect and prepare evidence and documents, write submissions, and prepare for the hearing.

In QCAT proceedings and hearings, parties generally must represent themselves, without their lawyers present.

However, you can ask QCAT for permission to be legally represented or have someone else act on your behalf in the hearing. In some matters you do not require permission from QCAT to be represented.

You can learn more about appearance at proceedings and representation here

If a party requires special assistance to enable them to properly participate in proceedings, please advise QCAT in the application or response form or via email as soon as possible so appropriate arrangements can be made, including requiring:

  • an interpreter
  • space to accommodate wheelchair access or other mobility aids
  • a hearing loop
  • special arrangements to feel safe in a hearing (for example, if the parties to a matter are experiencing domestic and family violence)
  • non-publication orders if a party has concerns about personal safety and their identity or address being disclosed

A final decision will be made

A QCAT decision-maker will make the final decision:

  • at the hearing orally, including delivering their reasons for decision
  • on papers hearing without the parties present; or
  • reserve their decision and make the decision with written reasons after the hearing

If an oral hearing is scheduled, the parties must attend, present their case and bring witnesses to give evidence if required.

If the decision was made on the papers or reserved, the decision and reasons will be delivered in writing and sent to the parties when handed down by the QCAT decision-maker.

Parties can also request a transcript of the proceeding including the oral reasons, make claims for costs or appeal the final decision.

If QCAT’s decision relates to a tenancy dispute and involves the distribution of bond money, at the conclusion of the hearing, QCAT will give the Residential Tenancy Authority (RTA) the details of the decision. The RTA will then distribute the money according to the decision.

You can learn more about whats happens after a final hearing or proceeding here.


You can resolve the dispute privately or withdraw your matter

QCAT’s purpose is to provide a quick, inexpensive avenue to resolve disputes between parties and make decisions. However, making an application to QCAT does not stop the parties from resolving their dispute privately or discontinuing the matter.

Parties can resolve the dispute independently by approaching the person you are in dispute with and negotiating a solution privately. If you are unable to reach an agreement between yourselves, you can contact your local  Dispute Resolution Centre to assist with resolving the dispute informally. Please note that you can only do this in specific matter types.

You can also withdraw your application at any stage during the process. For example, the matter may be resolved in mediation so there is no need for a final hearing or you have considered the merits of your case and wish to discontinue.

Please note in some cases, permission to withdraw your matter may be required by a QCAT decision-maker.

If you have resolved your matter or wish to discontinue, learn more about the withdrawal process here

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