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If you can’t resolve your dispute with a trader through negotiation or mediation, you can make an application to QCAT.
To make an application for a consumer and trader dispute to QCAT you must submit a QCAT Form 1 – Application for minor civil dispute – consumer dispute (see sample form 1(PDF, 836KB)). These forms are available from the QCAT registry in Brisbane, your local magistrates court or you can download it from the QCAT website www.qcat.qld.gov.au/forms
Type your answers or print neatly in black or blue pen. Make copies of the completed form.
You will need one copy for the tribunal, one copy for you and one copy for each respondent (the person or company you are making an application against). Photocopies are acceptable, but you must sign the form before you copy it.
Where there is a space on the form for the orders you are seeking, state your claim and the amount you are claiming in one or two sentences.
Where there is a space to state your reasons for seeking those orders, explain your demand fully and simply. Do not make emotional remarks, but rather present the facts about who did what, where and when. Make sure you explain clearly what the respondent agreed to and what they failed to do as well as how you arrived at the amount of the claim. You can provide further details in the attachment. Sign each sheet of paper at the bottom.
If the respondent is an individual, you name the respondent and their address in your application.
If the respondent is a business, then in your application you need to list all the business owners’ names “trading as” the business’s trading name.
For example, if you are making a claim against plumber Jo Bloggs whose business trades as Bloggies Plumbing, in the respondents section of your claim form you would write Jo Bloggs “trading as” Bloggies Plumbing.
If the respondent is a company, on your application you name as the respondent the company name and ABN number and the registered company address.
Make sure your claim contains all the necessary details but is easy to understand. If there is not enough room on the form to write all the details, attach a separate sheet marked in the top centre with ‘Attachment A’ and write ‘see attachment A’ under “the reason I am seeking orders from the tribunal” section on the form.
Make sure you mark an ‘X’ in the bracket on the claim form to show whether you are seeking payment, relief from payment, return of goods or work to be redone. Sign and date the form and any extra sheets of paper you have included.
If you or your witnesses cannot attend QCAT on certain dates give a list of those dates to the tribunal when you lodge your application.
If you are in Brisbane you may lodge your form in the Brisbane registry at:
259 Queen Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
If you are outside of Brisbane, you may lodge your form with your local Magistrates Court. To find your nearest Magistrates Court, look under “Justice and Attorney-General” in the phone book or visit www.courts.qld.gov.au
Give or send the original and copies of the form including any attachments to the QCAT registry. Pay the tribunal’s application fee. The registry staff will stamp your forms and give them a number. A scale of fees is available on the QCAT website or by phoning the QCAT registry on 1300 753 228.
The tribunal will give you one copy back of the stamped forms (called a sealed copy) for each respondent and the original for you to keep for your records.
You may be eligible for a waiver of fees. To apply for a waiver of fees you will need to complete a Form 49 – Application for waiver of fees by reason of financial hardship. You can obtain this form from the registry or download it from the QCAT website.
You must deliver (serve) a copy of the filed forms on the other party. You need to arrange to have one of the stamped copies of the application forms delivered to the person or business you are claiming against as soon as possible. This is called ‘serving the papers’.
You can do this yourself by post, but it is often better to pay a private process server or enforcement officer from the magistrates court to do it for you.
You can find a process server by:
The QCAT website contains a practice direction for service of documents which explains the procedure if you want to personally serve a document to the respondent(s) yourself. A practice direction is a guideline that provides more information on a specific issue involved with QCAT applications and proceedings.
Check the application fee with the QCAT registry or online at the QCAT website www.qcat.qld.gov.au.
If you win your case the tribunal can order that you be reimbursed for the cost of:
In some instances the tribunal can make an order about the legal costs of a solicitor. Generally you need permission from the tribunal to have a solicitor or other person represent you and orders permitting representation are only made in a limited number of circumstances.
The respondent might not agree with your case and decide to argue their side of the story.
They may choose to lodge a ‘counter claim’ at the QCAT registry or their nearest magistrates court.
To do this they will need to prepare and lodge a Form 8 – Minor civil dispute – counter-application (see sample form 2(PDF, 546KB)).
In a counter claim, the other party outlines facts which try to disprove the original application and sets out their claim against you. For example, you stated that “the contract is a written document dated 1 July 2016”, the other party may say “I deny that the contract was a written document dated 1 July 2016 because the copy of the contract is signed and dated 1 July 2015”.
Even after you have lodged an application, it is never too late to reach agreement. Reaching agreement may save both sides time, money and inconvenience.
In most cases, if your application involves an amount of $1500 or less, your matter will proceed directly to a hearing.
If your application involves an amount of more than $1500, both parties (you and the respondent) will then receive a notice to attend mediation. The notice includes the date, time and location of mediation. The aim of mediation is to get all parties to reach an agreement.
If your matter isn’t settled at mediation then it will proceed to a hearing.
If you do settle the matter, your mediator will assist you to advise the tribunal and confirm the terms of the agreement in writing.