1. Before you apply to QCAT
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. Some traders and companies have complaints processes in place or are part of an industry scheme that can resolve disputes.
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 however, you are unable to reach a satisfactory outcome you can either choose to:
- invite the other party to attend mediation which is a way of settling a dispute without legal action. The Department of Justice provides a free mediation service through its Dispute Resolution Centres, or
- apply to QCAT to resolve your dispute. Claims must be lodged within six years of the agreement happening
2. Complete and lodge online (Brisbane only)
If you live in Brisbane, QCAT now offers an online portal for you to securely file applications, referrals or documents electronically, view, manage and respond to your minor debt case. This fully-digital case management system makes filing and managing your case easier and more accessible by allowing you to:
- view case information and documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; access via desktop, laptop, mobile phone, and tablet
- receive case updates and notifications in real time
- lodge documents any time on any day of the week.
3. Complete and lodge this form manually
If you live outside of Brisbane, or you cannot access the online portal, you can complete an application for minor debt and lodge the appropriate application form listed below. Carefully read the form instructions, answer each question and tick an appropriate box when prompted. When you apply you must ensure:
- the full name/s of the respondent/s is set out in your application
- if the respondent is a business/company, ensure you include the registered business or company name and the ABN/ACN. (If the respondent is a business or company, the applicant can perform an ASIC company or business name search to make sure these details are correct)
- you include the respondent’s contact details, including the street address (i.e. not a post office box)
- details of the debt, including:
- the date/s and place it happened
- the fixed or agreed amount
- the terms of the agreement (including whether it was a written or verbal agreement)
- supporting documents, including a copy of the agreement (if the applicant has one)
- if the applicant is claiming interest, the amount of interest and how it was calculated – the applicant can calculate interest using the courts’ interest calculator unless the interest rate is agreed between the parties
- the amount the applicant is seeking if they are claiming costs.
- you understand that you are required to give a copy of the application as set out in step 4 below
When filing a paper application (not online), you are required to file the application and supporting material along with three copies, plus one extra copy for every additional party named in the dispute, in one of the following ways:
|In person or via mail to your local Magistrates Court||Click here to find a list of Queensland Magistrates Courts.|
|In person at the Brisbane registry|
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
|Mail to the Brisbane registry|
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
You are required to pay a fee for this application. Minor civil dispute filing fees are based on a sliding scale of how much is being claimed. You must pay the appropriate fee at the time of lodgement – (Credit card authorisation form for mail payments)
You can apply for a waiver of fees by reason of financial hardship by completing a Form 49 – Application for waiver or reduction of fees by reason of financial hardship. Applicants must meet the relevant eligibility criteria.
Form 3 - Application for minor civil dispute - minor debt
The purpose of this form is to make an application for minor civil dispute - minor debt.
4. Giving your application to the other parties to the dispute
In minor debt disputes, when you apply you are required to serve your application on the other parties to the dispute in accordance with Rule 39 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2009, including service:
- by post
- by fax if the person being served has an address for service that includes a fax number
- by email if the person being served has an address for service that includes an email address
- by leaving it with someone who is at the relevant address and is apparently an adult and residing or employed there
- in another way provided for in the service practice direction
- in any other way directed by the tribunal
QCAT will provide a sealed copy of your application and any attachments to you after the application is filed and accepted. You then have 90 days to serve a sealed copy of the application and attachments on the other parties to the dispute.
Once the respondent has been served, the person who served the application (could be you, bailiff, or another person) must complete the affidavit of service below and give this to QCAT. An affidavit is a statement sworn under oath/affirmation in the presence of a commissioner of declarations, justice of the peace or a lawyer. The affidavit is required to prove the application has been given to the respondent. You do not need to give a copy to the respondent.
Form 9 - Affidavit of service
The purpose of this form is to prove your application has been served on all other parties. This form must be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace.
Personal service on an individual
Pursuant to Rule 39 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2009 a copy of an application for a minor debt claim may be served by delivering it personally in the way provided in QCAT Practice Direction No 8 of 2009.
This means the applicant may personally give (“serve”) a sealed copy of the application to each respondent in person. You can serve the application personally or use the services of a Magistrates Court bailiff, commercial agent or process server.
QCAT Practice Direction No 8 of 2009 sets out the ways in which you can personally serve your minor debt application, including:
- personal service on an individual
- personal service on an entity in Queensland other than an individual (i.e. a corporation or business etc)
- service if person intended to be served resides or carries on business more than 50km from the nearest Registry of the Tribunal
- service when respondent is in Australia outside Queensland
QCAT Practice Direction No 8 of 2009 sets out the procedure for serving a document in person on an individual.
If the applicant wants someone to serve the documents on their behalf, they may contact the Bailiff-Sherriff’s office at their local Magistrates Court. A fee may apply.
Personal service on an entity in Queensland other than an individual (i.e. a corporation or business etc)
QCAT Practice Direction No 8 of 2009 sets out the procedure for serving a document personally on:
- a corporation (at paragraph 7)
- an incorporated association (at paragraph 8)
- an unincorporated association (at paragraph 9)
- a partnership (at paragraph 10)
- a business (at paragraph 11)
Service if person intended to be served resides or carries on business more than 50km from the nearest Registry of the Tribunal
If the person you intend to be served resides or carries on business more than 50km from a Magistrate Court or QCAT Registry, you may serve the application on the respondent by posting a copy of it to the respondent’s residential or business address.
*The “nearest Registry” may be the nearest Magistrates Courthouse, to where the respondent resides, or carries out business.
Service when respondent is in Australia outside Queensland
If the respondent resides or carries on business in another State or Territory and the proceedings are commenced in Queensland, the applicant must serve a copy of the initiating application and supporting material on the respondent, along with a Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Commonwealth) - Form 1.
5. If you are having difficulty personally serving the respondent
If you are having difficulty personally serving the respondent and require permission to serve via substituted service or require an extension of the 90 day time limit for service, you will need to complete the application to extend or shorten a time limit or for waiver of compliance with procedural requirement below. This application will then be considered by a QCAT decision-maker, and you will be advised of the outcome.
Form 42 - Application to extend or shorten a time limit or for waiver of compliance with procedural requirement
The purpose of this form is to ask QCAT for permission to make your application outside the 28 day or other statutory review timeframe.
6. Default decisions
After you have served the respondent with the application, the respondent has 28 days from the date of receiving the minor debt dispute application to respond using Form 7 – Minor Debt Response and give a copy to the applicant and QCAT.
If the respondent fails to do this, the applicant can apply for a decision by default. A decision by default means a decision on your case will be made by QCAT from the paperwork received and in the absence of the respondent. You will not be required to attend mediation or a hearing.
How to apply for a default decision?
To apply for a decision by default, the applicant must complete a Form 6 - Request for decision by default.
If a FORM 9 - Affidavit of Service has not been previously provided to QCAT, you will need to complete the affidavit of service section within the application for a decision by default.
QCAT must be satisfied that the respondent has received a copy of the application and supporting material BEFORE a default decision can be considered.
Once received, QCAT will then consider your application and make a decision in the case.
7. What happens next?
Once QCAT has accepted your application, you will be provided with a case number to keep track of your case.
You can find out what happens after you apply.