What happens at a hearing
This is general information about what happens at hearings. There are different ways that QCAT may hear your matter depending on the type of matter it is. If you have any specific questions, please ask your case manager or a registry staff member on the day.
When you arrive
- At most venues, your hearing room will be listed on an electronic display on the wall. In some locations, Court Network volunteers (wearing pink lanyards) may assist.
- A QCAT Hearing Support Officer (HSO) will announce the matter name (the names of the parties involved) and take your name.
- Please let the HSO know if you have any witnesses. Witnesses should sit outside until they are called to give evidence.
- Tell the HSO if you have any special needs or if you require the use of electronic equipment to present evidence.
- While HSOs may give procedural advice about the presentation of evidence, the decision about what evidence may be received and how it is received is a matter for the member hearing the dispute.
- ‘Member’ refers to any QCAT decision-maker and, depending on the matter, may be a judicial member, member, adjudicator, magistrate or a Justice of the Peace.
- While you wait for the hearing it is ok to talk to the other party about your dispute – you may be able to settle.
- The HSO will advise you when the hearing room is open and escort each party into the hearing room.
- Please switch off your mobile phone before you enter the hearing room.
- Take a seat at the ‘bar table’, usually the long table closest to the door.
- Arrange your files and documents for easy access.
The start of the hearing
- Depending on your case, there may be one, two or three members hearing your case.
- The HSO will announce the arrival of the member by saying ‘Silence, all stand. The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal is now in session’.
- Please stand until the member invites you to sit down. The member will introduce themselves and explain how the hearing will proceed.
- The member will ask all parties to identify themselves to ensure names are read correctly into the tribunal record.
- Both parties have a chance to tell the member about the case and their witnesses. The applicant usually goes first.
- Tell the member if any witnesses have to leave early, or can only give evidence at a particular time.
- The member might ask the parties to confirm:
- which documents they have filed
- which documents they are relying on to prove their case
- the issues to be decided by the tribunal.
Evidence and witnesses
- Usually the tribunal has made orders before the hearing requiring the parties to file statements and documents to support their case.
- The tribunal must act fairly. It is not fair for a party to be surprised by what a witness might say at the hearing, and have no opportunity to investigate. If you want to call witnesses and you have not filed their statement, the member may refuse to hear their evidence. If the member does accept the evidence, the hearing might be adjourned (postponed to a later date) at your cost.
- Call your witnesses one by one. Give the witness a copy of their statement or affidavit you filed before the hearing. Ask the witness to confirm it is their statement and if the information is true and correct.
- The witness might want to correct something in the statement or provide more information. The member will guide you through the process.
- The other party and the member may ask the witness questions. This is called cross-examination.
- After cross-examination, you can question your witness again to clarify any points.
During the hearing
- Tribunal procedure is based on respect and courtesy. This helps hearings proceed quickly and efficiently for all parties.
- The member will call you by your title and family name (eg ‘Mr Smith’ or ‘Ms Brown). You should call the member ‘Member’ or by their title and family name (eg ‘Ms Jones’). For more information on QCAT hearing protocol, access Practice Direction 2014/1 Hearing Protocol .
- Please listen closely to any instructions from the member.
- Do not interrupt. If you disagree with information provided by the other party, make a note and correct them when it is your turn to speak.
At the end of the hearing
- After the evidence, the member will ask for closing submissions. Each party summarises the evidence and asks the member to decide in their favour.
- The respondent will usually give closing submissions first.
- Sometimes the member asks the parties to file and serve written submissions after the hearing. This is not an opportunity to submit new evidence; you need to summarise the evidence and explain why your case is better than the other side’s case.
- The member will make a decision based on the law and the evidence.
- The tribunal may announce its decision at the hearing. If the tribunal needs more time to consider your case, it may announce the decision later (this is a reserved decision).
- If the member decides another hearing is required, you may get the new hearing date before you leave. If not, you will be advised as soon as possible.
- The HSO announces closure of the hearing by saying 'Silence, all stand. The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal is closed'.
- Please stand until the member leaves the hearing room.