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If you can settle the case without starting proceedings you will save yourself a lot of time, energy and possibly money.
Before you apply to QCAT, talk to the other person or business involved in the dispute to try to solve the problem. If the two of you need help to work out an agreement, there is a free mediation service provided by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General's Dispute Resolution Branch.
The Dispute Resolution Branch has centres throughout the state, where trained mediators bring the people in a dispute together so they can talk over their differences and reach a settlement that suits them both. In regional areas where there is no Dispute Resolution Centre, staff at the local Magistrates Courts act as mediators.
Dispute Resolution Centres:
If you choose to make an application to the tribunal, you must determine the correct respondent for the application. Check this thoroughly because if you get it wrong, your application will fail. If you are in any doubt, get legal advice.
The person who makes a minor debt application claim is called the 'applicant' and the person or business the application is made against is called the 'respondent'.
If the respondent is an individual (not a company or business), determine the person's correct full name and the address where they live. A post office box number is not enough. You need to name the respondent and their address in your application.
The person you dealt with may have been working for someone else. In that case, you must work out whether it is the business owner or a company that you have to make an application against.
If you are suing a business, you will need to find out the correct trading name for the firm and the names and addresses of all the owners of the firm. Check the trading name in letters, quotes, advertisements or receipts to make sure it is correct. If in doubt, do a search through the Australian Securities and Investment Commission's (ASIC) Organisations and Business Names database at asic.gov.au. You can search some information for free, while other more detailed information is available for a fee.
In the 'respondents' section of your application form, list all the business owners' names "trading as" the business's trading name.
For example, if you are making an application against plumber Jo Bloggs whose business trades as Bloggies Plumbing, in the respondents section of your application form you would write Jo Bloggs "trading as" Bloggies Plumbing.
If you are suing a company (note: companies have "Ltd", "Pty" or "Pty Ltd" at the end of their company name) you need to find out the full and correct name of the company, its registered address and Australian Company Number (ACN). You must state the ACN on the claim form, so it is important to get this right. If in doubt, do a search through the Australian Securities
and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Basic information is available by searching the free registers online at asic.gov.au/search. More detailed information is available from an ASIC Service Centre or an information broker (a search fee usually applies). To find one in your area go to asic.gov.au or call 1300 300 630.
In the 'respondents' section of your application form, list the company name and Australian Business Number (ABN) and the registered company address of the company you are claiming against.