Appealing a QCAT Decision

Learn about appealing a decision and the application process.

Parties to a proceeding can appeal a QCAT decision to QCAT’s Appeal Tribunal or in limited circumstances, to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court).

If your appeal relates to a decision made by an adjudicator in a Body Corporate and Community Management case, you can learn more information about making this type of appeal here.

If your appeal relates to a right to information or privacy complaint decision, you can learn more information about this type of appeal here.

For all other appeals, the below information will help you understand where to appeal and the process to appeal a QCAT decision.


General information about appeals

The appeal process can seem complex and hard to understand, however QCAT provides some key information to assist you. Before you begin you need to consider the rules and guidelines for making an appeal, to avoid making an error in your application or appealing incorrectly.

It is important to understand the following information:

Whether your application to appeal must be made to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal or the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) will depend upon the QCAT decision-maker who decided your case. There are different types of QCAT decision-makers. You need to determine this before you begin the appeal process. When you receive a copy of your decision, the decision will say which type of QCAT decision-maker made the decision.

The types of QCAT decision-makers include:

Judicial Members

The President and Deputy President, supplementary Members who are Supreme or District Court Judges, Members who are former Judges (when nominated by President to make decision as Judicial Member)

Senior, Ordinary and Sessional Members

Most common decision-makers in most QCAT cases.

Adjudicators

Most common decision-makers in minor civil dispute cases, which includes Judicial Registrars and Magistrates (sitting as Ordinary Members).

Justices of the Peace

Decision-makers who only consider some minor civil dispute cases.

You cannot appeal a decision just because you are unhappy with the outcome. You can only appeal a decision under specific grounds.

The QCAT Appeal Tribunal or Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) do not rehear the entire case. They only decide if there was an error in law and/or facts by listening to arguments from opposing sides that may have been overlooked by the original decision-maker.

The grounds for an appeal application can be based on:

A question of law

A question which must be answered by applying relevant legal principles or an interpretation of the law. It can relate to a failure by the QCAT decision-maker to give reasons or a failure to provide procedural fairness or natural justice

A question of fact

A question which must be answered by reference to facts and evidence, and inferences arising from those facts. It can be questions about what took place between the parties, a fact that was overlooked  or the weight given to particular evidence

A question of mixed law and fact

Relates to questions about whether the facts satisfy the legal tests

When a QCAT decision is delivered you generally do not have an automatic right to appeal. In most cases, you will need to apply for permission to appeal the decision first. This is called ‘leave to appeal’.

Leave to appeal will only be given in certain circumstances. It is important to note that the QCAT decision-maker considering your appeal will usually decide your application for leave to appeal before deciding the appeal. This is normally decided at the same appeal hearing. If leave to appeal is not required, the QCAT decision-maker will simply decide your appeal.

Most appeals require leave to appeal unless you are appealing on a question of law only, in which case you do not need to seek leave to appeal. If you do not require leave to appeal, this is referred to as an appeal ‘as of right’.

When you make your appeal application you will be asked if you are seeking leave to appeal in the application form. You can confirm if leave to appeal is required below in the section 'Determining where you must appeal'.

There are strict time limits to start an appeal. If you do not start your appeal within the time limit you will need to ask the QCAT Appeal Tribunal or the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) to extend the time limit to appeal. You must be aware that your extension request may not be granted by the decision-maker.

Generally, the time limits are as follows:

Application

Time Limit

  • Application for Appeal Tribunal’s leave to appeal
  • Application to Appeal Tribunal as of right

Application must be made within 28 days of either:

  • the day you were given written reasons for the decision; or
  • the day you received notice of the decision where reasons are not required to be given; or
  • the day you received notice of the decision where you did not request written reasons within 14 days after the decision takes effect; or
  • if you applied to QCAT for a renewal, reopening or correction of a mistake – the day that application was finally dealt with.
  • Application to the Appeal Tribunal where leave is required and has been granted
  • Application to the Appeal Tribunal where leave is required and has been granted
  • Within 21 days from the day leave is given
  • Application to the Court of Appeal
  • Application must be made within 28 days after the relevant day unless the Court of Appeal orders otherwise

Before you bring an appeal to QCAT, you need to understand that you cannot appeal against the following decisions:

  • a decision made by the Principal Registrar or a delegate to accept or reject an application or referral
  • a direction made by the Tribunal to the Principal Registrar to accept or reject an application or referral
  • a decision to set aside a decision by default; and
  • a decision made by the Tribunal on an application to reopen a proceeding

Determining where you must appeal the decision

When you make an appeal application, there are several factors that affect whether you must lodge your appeal in the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) or with the QCAT Appeal Tribunal.

Before you appeal you need to determine the following as was defined above. You must determine:

  1. who made the decision (i.e. the type of QCAT decision-maker)
  2. what grounds you are making the appeal under
  3. if permission (leave) to appeal is required; and
  4. the type of decision you wish to appeal (if the decision relates to a minor civil dispute, costs, interlocutory decision or is a final decision)

The below sections set out this information in an easy-to-use table format. This will assist you with understanding which decisions you can appeal to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) or QCAT Appeal Tribunal and the grounds you can bring the appeal under in either forum. Please ensure you read both sections below and confirm this before continuing with the process.

The below table sets out decisions that must be made to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) including if permission (leave) to appeal is required.

Generally, most parties will NOT make an application to the Court of Appeal as only very limited decisions must be made to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) including decisions made by judicial members or decisions made by the QCAT Appeal Tribunal.

Which body made the decision?

What kind of person made the decision?

What kind of decision was it?

Is an appeal possible?

Is leave (permission) to appeal needed?

Which body gives leave (permission) to appeal and hears the matter?

QCAT

Any member

Cost-amount decision, only on a question of law

Yes

Yes

Court of Appeal

QCAT

Judicial Member

Decision on question of fact

Yes

Yes

Court of Appeal

QCAT

Judicial Member

Decision on question of mixed law and fact

Yes

Yes

Court of Appeal

QCAT

Judicial Member

Decision of question of law only

Yes

No

Court of Appeal

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

Any member

Decision to refuse application for leave (permission) to appeal against Tribunal decision, on a question of law only

Yes

Yes

Court of Appeal

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

Any Member

Cost-amount decision, on a question of law only

Yes

Yes

Court of Appeal

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

Any Member

Final decision, on a question of law only

Yes

Yes

Court of Appeal

If after reading the table you have determined that you need to file your appeal application to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court), you must go to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) website. More information about the Court of Appeal process is contained here.

Please note, when you file an application to the Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) you should not name QCAT or a QCAT decision-maker as a party to the appeal proceedings. The parties should always be the same as those involved in the original decision issued by QCAT.

The below table sets out decisions that must be made to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal including if permission (leave) to appeal is required.

Generally, most decisions related to minor civil disputes, decisions about adult's with impaired decision-making capacity (guardianship/administration) and other civil matters are appealed to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal.

Which body made the decision?

What kind of person made the decision?

What kind of decision was it?

Is an appeal possible?

Is leave (permission) to appeal needed?

Which body gives leave (permission) to appeal and hears the matter?

QCAT

Senior/ordinary member, adjudicator or JP

Decision, including a final decision, about a minor civil dispute

Yes

Yes

QCAT  Appeal Tribunal

QCAT

Senior/ordinary member, adjudicator or JP

Interim decision, interlocutory decision or any other decision that is not a final decision

Yes

Yes

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

QCAT

Senior/ordinary member, adjudicator or JP

Costs order

Yes

Yes

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

QCAT

Senior/ordinary member, adjudicator or JP

Final decision on a question of fact

Yes

Yes

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

QCAT

Senior/ordinary member, adjudicator or JP

Final decision on a question of mixed fact and law

Yes

Yes

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

QCAT

Senior/ordinary member, adjudicator or JP

Final decision (except for a final decision about a minor civil dispute), on a question of law only

Yes

No

QCAT Appeal Tribunal

If after reading the table you have determined that you need to file your appeal application to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal, you can learn more about the process to make an appeal application and further information below.


What is the process to appeal a decision to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal?

All appeals to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal are conducted in the QCAT Brisbane registry. If you have considered the above information and determined you are ready to make an appeal to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal, it is important to understand the process for the appeal.

QCAT registry staff cannot give you advice about whether you should appeal against a decision or whether your application would be successful. To make an appeal application you must:

When a decision is made QCAT provides oral or written reasons to help you understand why the decision was made. The reasons include the findings of fact made by the decision-maker and how the law applies in the decision that was reached. This will assist you to understand how the decision-maker came to their decision.

You can request reasons for a QCAT decision if they are not provided. You may apply for reasons for a decision within 14 days from when the decision takes effect. This is usually the date the decision is made (unless the decision says otherwise).

To apply for reasons for the decision via QCAT’s online service please click here.

In some circumstances QCAT is not required to give reasons for some procedural decisions in relation to the proceedings. This includes decisions to consolidate, separate or hear and decide proceedings together, and decisions to amend time limits or waive compliance with procedural requirements in a matter.

See also sections 122 and 123 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 for more information.

Generally, the QCAT Appeal Tribunal will not give you leave to appeal if your reasons for appealing are that:

  • you do not agree with the original decision
  • you think another decision-maker might have made a different decision
  • QCAT preferred the evidence of another person to your evidence
  • QCAT relied on evidence with which you do not agree
  • you want another opportunity to present your case in the hope you will get a different outcome.

Consider the above before you file an application to appeal a decision.


Consider applying to reopen your case

Before you file an application to appeal a decision, also consider if the grounds you have can be better dealt with by applying to QCAT to reopen the original case.

QCAT will consider reopening a case only if a party:

  • did not appear at the final hearing and had a reasonable excuse for not attending; or
  • would suffer substantial injustice if the matter was not reopened because significant new evidence has emerged that was not previously available.

You can learn more about reopening a case and how to apply to do so here.


Matters relating to adults with impaired decision-making capacity (Guardianship and Administration)

If you want to appeal decisions about adults with impaired decision-making capacity, you should consider whether lodging an appeal is your best option.

When decisions are made about adults with impaired decision-making capacity you can request a review of an appointment made by QCAT for adults with impaired decision-making capacity. If you do request a review of a decision, it must meet the criteria set out in paragraph 5 of Practice Direction 8/2010.

You can request a review of an appointment made by QCAT and also learn more about the process relating to adults with impaired decision-making capacity here.

QCAT also conducts reviews at the end of the period of a guardianship or administration appointment ordered by the QCAT decision-maker. These are called periodic reviews. For example, a QCAT decision-maker may appoint a guardian for a period of two (2) years. QCAT conducts a review at the end of this period to determine if any appointments should be continued, changed or revoked. When the review is conducted, this is your opportunity to put forward your views about any current or future appointments made or other relevant information. Waiting until a review is conducted, will save you time and costs in appealing.

When you file an appeal application, it is important that you name the parties in the appeal correctly.  The parties to the appeal proceedings are the same parties that were involved in the original proceedings and decision issued by QCAT.

If your appeal relates to decisions about adults with impaired decision-making capacity (guardianship and administration), then all active parties in the case automatically become respondents in the appeal and should be named in the appeal application.

Naming the correct parties in your appeal avoids:

  • wasted time and money in appealing against the wrong parties
  • delays in your appeal being considered due to required corrections
  • inability to continue to progress the case
  • inability to enforce any appeal decision made

You should not name QCAT or a QCAT decision-maker as a party to the proceedings when you file an appeal application. The parties should always be the same as those involved in the original decision issued by QCAT.

If you file your appeal application to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal, the Appeal Tribunal may:

  • issue appeal directions to the parties. Directions are instructions to the parties involved on how the appeal will proceed. The directions will include time for each party to file appeal submissions, appeal books containing original evidence relied on (if required) and transcripts of the original hearing (if required)
  • list the appeal for a Directions Hearing to deal with any preliminary issues and ensure directions have been complied with
  • in exceptional circumstances consider new evidence presented only if an application is made to file the new evidence to the Appeal Tribunal and the request is approved
  • list the matter for a final appeal hearing before a new QCAT decision-maker
  • after the appeal hearing, the QCAT Appeal Tribunal will then make a final decision based on the law and the appeal submissions provided by the parties

When the QCAT Appeal Tribunal considers an appeal, there are various decisions that can be made. It is important to understand what to expect from an appeal outcome.

If you make an appeal on a question of law only, in deciding an appeal the QCAT Appeal Tribunal may:

  • confirm or amend a decision
  • set aside the decision and substitute its own decision
  • set aside the decision and send the matter back to QCAT (or the original decision-maker ) for reconsideration, with directions about whether to hear more evidence, and any other appropriate directions
  • make any other order considered appropriate in combination with the above or as a stand alone order

If you make an appeal on a question of fact or mixed law and fact, in deciding an appeal the QCAT Appeal Tribunal may:

  • confirm or amend the decision
  • set aside the decision and substitute their own decision
  • set aside the decision and send the matter back to QCAT (or the original decision maker) for reconsideration .

It is recommended if you intend to appeal, you do so as soon as possible. If you do not start your appeal within the time limit, the QCAT Appeal Tribunal may refuse to accept your application. You will then need to ask the Appeal Tribunal for an extension of time.

Due to circumstances outside your control or some other reason, if your appeal application has not been made within the required period of 28 days (or other appeal period), in some cases you can ask for permission to extend the statutory time limit to lodge the appeal application. Typically, extensions of time are only granted if you have a special reason for the delay.

When you apply to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal for the appeal, you must complete an application to extend the statutory time limit. You must also give a copy of the application to extend the appeal time limit along with the appeal application to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal and the other parties.

You can view a copy of the relevant extension request application form below if you apply to appeal.

When the QCAT Appeal Tribunal considers your appeal, a transcript of the original hearing will need to be provided in some cases. The purpose of providing a transcript is so the Appeal Tribunal can review the matters discussed at the original hearing relating to the decision.

If your case relates to a minor civil dispute, including tenancy, minor debt, consumer/trader or fencing disputes, you do not need to provide a transcript of the proceedings. The QCAT Appeal Tribunal will source a copy of the transcript internally at the appropriate time before the final appeal hearing.

If your appeal relates to matters other than a minor civil dispute, the QCAT Appeal Tribunal will ask you to file a copy of the transcript from the original hearing. You need to consider the cost of providing the transcript in your proceeding before you appeal, which can be significant.

To find out how to order a transcript of your original proceeding and any costs involved you can learn more here.

If you have considered the above information and you are ready to appeal, you need to consider the costs that will be incurred and take these into account before you apply to appeal. These include:

  • an initial appeal application fee
  • potential costs to obtain a copy of a transcript (excluding minor civil dispute matters)
  • costs and time taken to prepare relevant material for the Appeal Tribunal
  • costs and time taken to complete the appeal process and attend proceedings
  • costs you may incur to comply with the QCAT Appeal Tribunal’s decision or directions

You should consider the reasons for the original decision or seek legal advice if you do not understand the decision and reasons before appealing. This may save you costs in lodging an appeal without appropriate grounds.

I have been named as the respondent in the appeal when I was the applicant in the original case, why?

When an appeal is lodged the party who lodges the appeal becomes the applicant in the appeal.

If you were the applicant in the original matter and the respondent appeals the decision, the respondent becomes the applicant in the appeal process.

For example, Mrs Smith lodges a building dispute at QCAT against Mr Thomas. When the decision is made Mr Thomas decides to appeal the decision. In the appeal process Mr Thomas is now the applicant and Mrs Smith is the respondent. It is important to note this when filing your material or correspondence in the appeal, so as not to confuse the material submitted to QCAT.


When an appeal is lodged, does it stop the original decision taking affect?

Normally a decision will take effect on the day it is made. Your appeal does not affect the operation of the original QCAT decision taking effect. However, in some cases, you can ask the QCAT Appeal Tribunal to stop the original decision taking effect until your application for leave to appeal or appeal is decided and finalised. This is called a ‘stay’ of the decision.

The QCAT Appeal Tribunal will only stay the decision in certain circumstances. They will look at the strength of your case, the balance of convenience between the parties, and, if the decision was to pay money to another party, whether you will have any difficulty recovering the amount paid from the other person.

You can view a copy of the application to stay a decision in the last section of the page when applying to appeal.


I am the respondent in the appeal application, can I still enforce the original decision?

At the end of a proceeding QCAT makes a final decision. If the other party does not comply with the decision made you can seek to enforce the order.

If the opposing party files an appeal application this does not affect the operation of the original QCAT decision unless QCAT orders otherwise.

If the Court of Appeal or the QCAT Appeal Tribunal stays the original decision however, enforcement cannot take place until after the period stated in the stay order.

When you start enforcement proceedings in the relevant court, you may also be asked if an appeal has been lodged. If an appeal has been lodged the relevant court may postpone enforcement proceedings until the appeal is decided, on its own initiative.

You can learn more about enforcing a QCAT decision here.


Will a copy of my original file be included with the appeal application?

Appeals to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal in Queensland are managed in the QCAT offices at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane. When your appeal is lodged, regardless of the location in which you filed the appeal, it will be provided to QCAT Brisbane.

If you choose to lodge an appeal QCAT will source and include a copy of the original file with the appeal.

If your file is in a regional courthouse, in most circumstances QCAT will organise for a copy of the file to be provided to the QCAT Brisbane offices to travel with your appeal. The file will include all documents contained on the record of proceedings, any directions or decisions issued, and any exhibits made in the original hearing.

When you file the appeal, you do not need to file all of the original material with the appeal. The QCAT Appeal Tribunal will issue instructions for how the matter will proceed.


I am not happy with the decision, can I appeal?

In your appeal application, you must state why you say QCAT made an error in fact or law or a mixture of both. An error does not occur only because you were not successful, and the other person won the case. You must refer to the relevant evidence or the reasons for the decision to prove your case.


Can I file new evidence in the appeal proceeding?

When you make an appeal to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal, the appeal process is not a chance for parties to rehear their case and file new evidence before a new set of QCAT decision-makers.

When the QCAT Appeal Tribunal hears an appeal, a hearing will take place to consider the original information and evidence presented.

New information and evidence may only be presented if you apply to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal and your request is approved or if the QCAT Appeal Tribunal makes directions allowing you to do so. Consider this before you decide to appeal.


My appeal was not successful am I entitled to a refund?

A refund cannot be paid because you did not get the outcome you wanted in the appeal. In exceptional circumstances a refund may only be given at the discretion of QCAT.

When requesting an appeal fee refund you must do so in writing (for example, in an email) and must explain why you are seeking a refund by giving detailed reasons.

The time for QCAT to finalise an appeal may vary depending on QCAT’s workload and the number of steps to be completed by parties as required by QCAT to finalise the appeal. The current average time to consider an appeal and finalise your case can be found on our expected timeframes page.

How do I apply to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal?

To make an appeal application, please select your case type from the list below:

Return to Appeals Home Page?

Find out more information from the appeals homepage.

Queensland legislation related to appeals include the:

  • Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009

The Act is available from the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel.

You can access a range of databases which keep records of previous decisions about domestic and commercial building disputes. This includes previous decisions made by:

QCAT registry staff cannot give you legal advice in civil cases and are not involved in QCAT decision making.

For legal advice

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 and QCAT Services to self-represent or, in limited circumstances, be given representation.

If you are unsure whether 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 an application form. 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.

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

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 case – this depends on your individual case