Consumer and trader disputes

Consumer and trader disputes involve disputes against another person, trader or company arising out of a contract for the supply of goods and services, valued up to and including $25,000.

Help and further information

All parties are responsible for keeping their contact details up to date during the life of a proceeding. You must notify the QCAT registry and other parties of any changes as soon as possible to ensure there are no unnecessary delays with your case.

If you need to update your email, postal addresses, phone numbers and/or representative details, you can do so by submitting a Change to your Contact Details form here.

If you are currently experiencing domestic and family violence or any other circumstance where you are concerned about your personal details being disclosed, please contact QCAT as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. QCAT can make non-publication orders in relation to access to personal information.

How the QCAT registry communicates with you

Correspondence from the QCAT registry will generally be sent to parties by email or mail.

You must ensure you check your email account regularly for communications regarding your case. If a party does not have an email address, QCAT will send written correspondence by post.

In some circumstances, you may also be contacted by telephone; please note that QCAT may display on your phone as a private number.

If you have nominated a representative as the address for service for QCAT correspondence, they will be contacted for all future communications on your behalf. In these circumstances you must contact your representative for updates relating to your matter and not QCAT.


How you communicate with QCAT

All information and material to be considered by QCAT in civil matters must be submitted in writing and also provided to each other party in the matter.

Unless the Tribunal directs otherwise if your case was filed in Brisbane, you are welcome to provide submissions or evidence by email to enquiriesQCAT@justice.qld.gov.au noting your case number in the subject line. If your case was filed with your local Magistrates Court you should contact them for details on how best to file material in your case.

Please note that any submissions or evidence exceeding 30 pages must be filed in hard copy in duplicate. Hard copies can be lodged at:

  • our front counter on Level 11, 259 Queen Street, Brisbane QLD 4000; or
  • at any courthouse in Queensland; or
  • sent to our postal address QCAT Registry, GPO Box 1639, Brisbane QLD 4001

How you communicate with the other parties

For procedural fairness, you must provide a copy of all evidence or material relied on to each other party involved as well as QCAT. Written evidence, submissions and any other applications must be filed in the QCAT registry in accordance with the dates directed in the directions issued by QCAT. If you are posting material to QCAT, please ensure you post five business days before the due date, to ensure it arrives on time.

Your failure to provide copies of your evidence to other parties involved with your matter will result in delays, adjournments, evidence not being considered by QCAT at hearing and in some instances, orders for you to pay another party’s costs, for example, costs of legal representation.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)’s registry is here to administer your matter and provide general information. Please see below what registry staff can and cannot do to assist with your matter.

Registry staff can:

* answer questions about QCAT processes

* provide information about QCAT’s different types of forms that are available for your consideration

* provide you with information and support about how to lodge an application

* refer and/or process any request to access the QCAT register of proceedings (a publicly available list of QCAT cases) or the record of proceedings (the case files themselves)

* advise on fees and allowances, and how to apply for a waiver of fees

* guide you in checking your forms are complete before lodgement (e.g. signed in the correct places)

* give you information on legal organisations that could help.


Registry staff cannot:

* provide legal advice

* advise on whether you should submit an application and whether you are filing under the correct legal area (eg minor civil dispute – consumer or trader or minor civil dispute – minor debt)

* tell you if you should lodge an appeal or a counter-application

* recommend a specific lawyer to assist you

* instruct you on how to word your application, supporting documents or what to say at a proceeding

* contact a QCAT member or adjudicator directly on your behalf

* predict likely outcomes of a case or appeal

* help you prepare your case

* advise what orders or decisions you should seek

* explain what you should do to follow QCAT directions

* recommend your next steps regarding enforcing an order or tribunal decision

* advise on exact timeframes for resolution of a matter – this depends on your individual matter

Keeping track of key dates and information in your case

QCAT registry staff are responsible for the day to day running of cases and provide administrative support to QCAT decision-makers. Registry staff can provide parties with general procedural information, however, registry staff must remain impartial in their position and cannot provide legal advice, advise likely outcomes or give timeframes regarding your case.

Parties must manage their own case in accordance with QCAT instructions. You will not receive reminders from registry staff.

Parties must keep track of all important dates and hearing details once written notification has been provided to you from QCAT.


If you have resolved the dispute privately

QCAT’s purpose is to provide a quick and  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.

For Legal advice:

* Contact the private solicitor of your choice

* Use Queensland Law Society’s Find a Solicitor service.

* Contact Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88

* Contact Community Legal Centres Queensland for details on your local community legal centre on 07 3392 0092

For assistance in legal proceedings:

LawRight Court and QCAT Services

LawRight is an independent, non-profit community based legal organisation that coordinates pro bono legal services for individuals and community groups. Parties with proceedings in QCAT may be able to obtain assistance from LawRight’s Court & Tribunal Services to self-represent or in limited circumstances, be given representation.

If you are unsure if you are eligible for assistance from LawRight or wish to make an enquiry, contact the service by phone on 07 3564 7561 or by email at qcat.cts@lawright.org.au or by writing to PO Box 12217, George Street QLD 4003.

To apply for help from LawRight, please complete the application form here. If you are unable to complete the online form, contact LawRight to discuss alternative arrangements

Community legal centres

Caxton Legal Centre
The Caxton Legal Centre is an independent, non-profit community organisation providing free legal and social work advice, assistance and referrals to the general public. Please note that the Caxton Legal Centre does not provide advice about building or other business and commercial disputes.

Women's Legal Service
Women's Legal Service is a community legal centre that provides free legal advice and information to women in Queensland.

Youth Advocacy Centre
The Youth Advocacy Centre offers free confidential legal and welfare assistance to young people under 17 years who live in or around Brisbane. Telephone support is also provided to young people outside of Brisbane and throughout Queensland.