The glossary explains common terms used by QCAT.

ActA law made by the Parliament; also  known as an Act of Parliament, legislation or law.


To suspend or postpone a meeting or hearing to a future date.

adjudicatorsLegally qualified QCAT decision-makers for minor civil disputes and other matters.

A person appointed by QCAT to assist adults with impaired decision-making capacity by making certain financial and legal decisions on their behalf.


Alternative dispute resolution – includes mediation, conciliation and compulsory conferences.
advance health directiveWhile an adult still has decision-making capacity they can record their wishes about their health and any medical treatment, and appoint an attorney for personal and health matters.
adversarialA legal system or proceeding where each party with competing claims puts their best case to an impartial person who then decides the outcome.
advocateThe person presenting a case to a court or tribunal on behalf of one of the parties involved.
affidavitA written statement made by a person to be used in a court proceeding as evidence. A person who makes an affidavit must swear on oath or make an affirmation that the contents of the affidavit are true. A person who makes an affidavit may be cross-examined about its contents at a hearing.
affirmationA declaration made instead of an oath.


Another name used by a person. Often, it is a false or assumed name.
allegationA statement, still to be proved, made by a party in a legal proceeding.

A procedure which, in certain circumstances, a party may request a higher decision-maker to reconsider a decision made. Often leave (or permission) to appeal is required before a decision is reconsidered.

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appeal tribunal

This is the appeal tribunal in QCAT, where most appeals against decisions of QCAT are heard.


The person or organisation appealing a decision.


The person who has submitted an application to QCAT requesting assistance in resolving a dispute, grievance or other issue.


When a person is unable to pay their debts, a court may order that their financial affairs be managed by a trustee who will call in all that person’s assets and pay debts from available funds.
bankruptcyAn order made under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) against a person which means that person is unable to pay their debts.


A person who is left something in a will or a person for whose benefit property is held by a trustee.
breach of contractWhere two (or more) parties have entered into a valid contract and one party fails to perform that party's obligations, then that party may be alleged to have 'breached the contract'.

breach of duty of care

Negligent or careless conduct, or failure to act, by a person who owes a duty of care to another and who fails to maintain the standard of care necessary to fulfil that duty.

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certified copy

A certified copy is a copy of an original document that has been noted as a true copy of the original by a qualified witness with the witness’s signature (a qualified witness may be a Justice of the Peace, a Commissioner for Declarations or a lawyer).


A legal entity either registered or recognised under the Corporations Act 2001 which conducts activities on its own behalf and is distinct from the people who own and control it. The law treats a company as a separate legal person, distinct from the people who own and control it.

compulsory conference

A dispute resolution method used by the tribunal to mediate settlement, identify issues in dispute and make orders and directions.

consent order

An order of the tribunal that is agreed to by both parties, and which the tribunal also agrees to make.
consumerIn a minor civil dispute, an individual who buys or hires goods or services other than for resale or in trade or business i.e. for personal use.

1. A legally-binding promise or agreement.
2. The form or document that records the terms of an agreement between parties.

A contract made be written or a verbal agreement between parties.


Used interchangeably with 'company'.
correctionIn some circumstances QCAT can correct a decision if it contains a clerical mistake; an error arising from an accidental slip or omission; a material miscalculation of figures or a material mistake in the description of a matter, person or thing mentioned in the decision; or
a defect of form.

counter-claim or counter-application

A counter-application is an application by the respondent against the applicant or another party regarding the same dispute or issue.

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The process of asking a witness questions to test or check the evidence that the witness has given to the tribunal.
damages - liquidatedLiquidated damages refer to specific agreements or sums of money.
damages - unliquidatedUnliquidated damages do not refer to a specific or agreed amount. The damages are for a sum of money which cannot be determined without consideration, by the tribunal, of the applicant’s evidence in support of the claim.

For example, a homeowner had an agreement with a builder for $100,000. The builder then provided quotations for additional work, but an agreement was not made. The builder completed the work and the homeowner has refused to pay. The builder applies to QCAT seeking payment for the additional work (unliquidated damages).


A decision is the orders given by the tribunal when a matter has been determined by a QCAT decision-maker.
default decisionA decision made by the tribunal in the absence of the parties to a dispute or a response from the respondent to an application.


Orders made by the tribunal for parties to do certain things to progress a matter e.g. to file and exchange material.
directions hearingA short hearing in which the member will make directions about how the dispute will be managed. Generally, the directions hearing will not deal with the substance of the dispute and will aim to streamline the matters progress.

An application is dismissed where the decision-maker decides that the application is without merit, has not been proved by the applicant or for another reason provided by the decision-maker. This does not necessarily mean the decision-maker has decided in favour of the respondent.

dispute resolution centres

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General's dispute resolution centres provide free and confidential mediation services throughout Queensland.

enabling Act

An Act that gives QCAT the power to hear a dispute.
enduring power of attorneyLegal document a person can prepare to give someone else the power to make personal or financial decisions on their behalf.

error of law

Refers to a misrepresentation or misapplication of a principle of law, or the application of an inappropriate principle of law to an issue of fact.
evidenceThe facts, circumstances or documents that parties present to the tribunal to prove their case. Evidence must be given orally or in writing and if required, under oath or by affidavit.


Documents or things produced by a party which the tribunal agrees to accept as evidence. If the documents are referred to in a statement or affidavit, they should be clearly identified and attached to that statement.
ex parteA hearing or order made in the absence of one of the parties.

expert conclave

An expert conclave is a private meeting between experts in the same field of expertise, chaired by a member of the tribunal. The purpose is to reach an agreement on expert evidence given to the tribunal, generally used where there is conflicting evidence by different experts.

A document is ‘filed’ in the tribunal when a party gives it to the tribunal registry and the registry accepts it.

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final hearing

The hearing at which a final decision is made.

After some final hearings the tribunal will give its decision; in some, the tribunal may ‘reserve’ its decision to consider the matter, and deliver that decision at a later time.

fresh hearing The way in which QCAT hears most matters in its review jurisdiction. This means that QCAT is to make its own decision; also referred to as a hearing de novo.


A guardian is a person appointed to help adults with impaired decision-making capacity by making certain personal and health care decisions on their behalf.
hearings on the papers

When the hearing takes place without the parties being present and the tribunal only considers written material provided by the parties.

impaired capacity

The inability of a person to go through the process of reaching a decision and putting it into effect based on three elements:

  • understanding the nature and effect of the decision
  • freely and voluntarily making a decision
  • communicating the decision in some way.

incorporated association

An association that can sue and be sued in its own name. Liability for members is limited to their membership fee.

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interim hearing

Any hearing that occurs before the final hearing.

interim order

This is used to describe any kind of order that is not a final order of the tribunal.

It may protect a party’s position while the proceeding is running, or provide for something to be done to make sure that any final decision of the tribunal can be effective.

joined party

A party who was not originally a party to the dispute but has been added to the proceeding by one of the parties or at the direction of the tribunal. Also referred to as joinder.

judicial member

Includes President and Deputy President (because they must be judges), a supplementary member who is a current sitting judge or, in some circumstances a senior/ordinary member who is a former judge.

jurisdictionThe legislative power of the tribunal to hear and determine certain matters.

leave to appeal

Seeking permission of the tribunal/Court of Appeal to appeal certain decisions of QCAT.
leave to be representedAn order of the tribunal allowing a party to be represented by another person, sometimes a solicitor.
legislationWritten law made by the Parliament, or by a delegate of the Parliament such as the Governor in Council.
lesseeAlso known as a tenant or renter.
lessorAlso known as a landlord or owner.
MCDminor civil dispute
mediationA dispute resolution method used to assist agreement or reconciliation between parties. This involves exploring possible agreements without an adversarial hearing. Mediations are conducted by impartial dispute resolution professionals.
memberProfessionally qualified QCAT decision-makers appointed by the government to hear and determine disputes in the tribunal.
minor civil disputesA claim for certain debts or disputes where the amount in dispute is less than $25,000 (excluding interest).
minor debtType of minor civil dispute; a dispute with a person, business or company about a fixed or agreed sum of money, valued up to and including $25,000 (excluding interest).
natural justice

The principle that requires the tribunal to conduct a fair and proper hearing without bias.

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non-publication order A non-publication order prohibits any publication to another person of the contents of a document, evidence given at the Tribunal or information which identifies a person who has appeared or is affected by the proceeding. It may be made on the application of a party or upon the Tribunal's own initiative.
oathA solemn declaration or undertaking about the truth of something (including affidavits or statements), often naming God.
orderA direction or instruction from the tribunal that a party do a certain, named, thing.
original jurisdictionA description of the type of nature of jurisdiction i.e. this is the first time that a decision has been made about a matter.
part heardThe hearing of the dispute before the tribunal has not finished and more time has to be set aside to complete the hearing.
partiesThe people or companies who are named in the dispute.
partnershipWhere parties agree to carry on a business together and share in profit and loss together. This is different from a company.
penaltyA punishment, fine or disadvantage imposed for wrong conduct.

practice direction

These are made by the President and set out the detailed practice and procedural requirements for particular types of matters in QCAT.
preliminary hearingA hearing of a particular issue that does not finalise the dispute.
procedural fairnessPart of natural justice. The obligation to ensure that parties are given the opportunity to put their case to the tribunal, including being able to respond to another party’s case.

reasons for a decision

The explanation of why a member made a decision. Reasons can be given either at the hearing or at a later time. If the reasons are given verbally at the hearing a person can apply to have a copy of the reasons given to them at no cost. The tribunal must provide a copy of the reasons within 45 days of the request.

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principal registrarThe chief administrative officer at QCAT and the person responsible for keeping the tribunal records.


The people who perform the administrative tasks of the tribunal and the place where those tasks are performed.


The way in which QCAT hears appeals (and some matters in QCAT’s review jurisdiction when enabling Acts state QCAT must 're-hear' the matter).
remote conferencingWhen the hearing is heard by video-conferencing/audio conferencing/telephone conferencing.


A party may apply for a renewal of a final decision within 28 days of it being made if it is not possible to comply with the order because of a change in circumstances, or there are problems with interpreting, implementing or enforcing QCAT’s decision.

Where a finalised file is re-opened and the proceedings continue. Re-openings are different to appeals. QCAT can decide to hear the matter again (re-open it) if:

  • a party did not appear (and has a good reason for this); or
  • significant new evidence has come to light that wasn’t available at the first QCAT hearing and there would be ‘substantial injustice’ to the party if it wasn’t re-opened to hear this evidence; or
  • it is more effective or convenient for QCAT to deal with the matter this way instead of by way of an appeal.
representativeThis is a person who represents a party during the tribunal process, often used interchangeably with advocate. 

The party against whom a QCAT application has been made.

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responseA response is where you say whether you agree or disagree with the applicant and what they say in their application. It lets the tribunal know what your position is in relation to what the applicant says.
reserved decisionA decision that will be announced at a later date.
review jurisdictionDescribes the type or nature of the jurisdiction. This is when QCAT is reviewing a decision made by another entity or authority, usually a government decision.
QCAT RulesRules set out the practical procedural requirements for QCAT and are made by the Governor in Council after being approved by the Rules Committee (not just the President). For example, the rules provide for how an application is served on another party.
sealed copyA copy of an application or other document filed with QCAT stamped by QCAT staff with the QCAT seal.
self-representationWhere parties conduct their own case, without a third party representing them in the tribunal. Also referred to as litigant in person.
service of documentsThe act of giving documents to a person or business (such as a copy of an application you have made about them).
sessional memberProfessionally qualified QCAT decision-makers appointed by the government for disputes before the tribunal who are employed on a case-by-case basis.
submissionsThe things that a party says to persuade the tribunal to make a decision in that party’s favour. Submissions can be in writing or spoken at a hearing. Submissions are different from giving evidence.
stay A ‘stay’ of a decision postpones a decision taking effect until a certain date.

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standard of proofThe test that the tribunal must apply to the evidence and documents that parties provide to the tribunal to decide factual issues, or to decide whether a party has satisfied the test imposed by law. The standard of proof will depend on the type of matter being heard, and the factual issues disputed by the parties.
struck outWhere the tribunal makes a decision to dismiss and not hear an application or a part of an application.
supplementary membersJudges (Supreme or District Court) or magistrates who are appointed as extra members to hear matters.

tenancy agreement

Also known as lease.

A general tenancy agreement outlines the legal rights and responsibilities of a tenant and lessor/agent.

traderIn a minor civil dispute matter, a person who in trade or commerce carries on a business of supplying goods or services. Does not include some professions such as dentists, solicitors and valuers.
transferredWhere the proceedings are moved to another court or jurisdiction to be heard and decided.
tribunalAn independent body established by legislation that hears and determines disputes between parties.
unincorporated associationA group of individuals who come together to further a common interest, without forming any legalised structure. Liability for members is unlimited.

Where the tribunal changes a hearing date, or changes an order previously made by the tribunal

warrant of possessionAn order authorising the police to enter a rented property and make the tenants leave the property. A warrant of possession is made under legislation and only once strict procedural steps have been taken. 
withdrawn/ withdrawalWhere the applicant requests that the tribunal end the proceedings before a final hearing or decision on the application has been made.

A person who gives evidence to the tribunal.

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