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Going to the hearing

Both parties will receive a notice of hearing which includes the time, date and location of the hearing. Be aware that a number of matters will be set for the same timeslot, and you should make sure you allow enough time to attend the hearing.

The aim of the hearing is to make a final decision about your case.

It is generally in your best interest to come to the hearing if the application has been made against you. If you do not attend the hearing, the tribunal may hear and decide the matter anyway, and an order may be made against you.

At the hearing you will tell the member or adjudicator your story. Although the hearing is informal, you are expected to tell your story clearly, in proper sequence, and with enough detail to explain your case.

How should I prepare for the hearing?

You need to give the tribunal all the relevant documents that help support the main points of your case. You need to bring any documents, invoices, receipts, quotations and/or other pieces of evidence you need to prove your case, and give them to the member or adjudicator at the hearing. You should make two copies of any documents you intend to give to the tribunal and have a copy for yourself and one for the other party.

Write down the facts and supporting evidence

The QCAT member or adjudicator makes a decision by listening to the facts and looking at the evidence. Knowing the difference between facts and evidence will help you present your case clearly.

It may help to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, write the facts you want to tell the member or adjudicator. On the right side write the evidence you will use to support your facts.

Facts Evidence

2 February 2016. Respondent called at my home. I agreed to lend her money.

 Own sworn evidence.

Bank cover of cheque book showing
notes about repayment.

2 February 2016. Paid $1500 to the respondent.

Own sworn evidence.

Evidence of flatmate Fred Jones who was present.

Copy of cheque butt dated 2 February 2016.

 Evidence can be written (in the form of sworn statements called affidavits), or verbal (when you or your witnesses give statements in the witness box).

Your own evidence, in your own words, is always helpful to your case.

Arrange witnesses

You can ask relevant witnesses who can support your case, to attend the hearing. If they are reluctant, you can apply to the tribunal to compel them to attend by serving a QCAT Form 38 - Hearing notices: application for notice requiring witness to attend hearing or produce document/thing at hearing. This is a notice from the tribunal demanding they attend the hearing (see sample documents and forms) or produce documents that could be used as evidence.

If your witness is reluctant, and forced to attend the hearing through the notice to attend, this action may upset them and in turn they may not give helpful evidence. So weigh this up carefully before you initiate a notice.

Only QCAT can order a person to attend a hearing or to produce documents by issuing an attendance notice. QCAT may charge a fee for this service. If a person is willing to attend or produce a document you do not need to apply to QCAT.

The witness does not have to attend unless you give them sufficient money to pay their costs of attending, for example money to cover their reasonable transport costs.

Practice your presentation

It can help to practice what you want to say in front of family and friends. Have your documents in order so that when you mention one it is ready to show at the right time. If you mention an important fact a witness can support, say you have a witness who can talk about this matter later. Have any evidence or photographs labelled and ready to show at the right time.

Listen to what your friends say. If your story is too long, cut out unnecessary details. If listeners cannot understand a point, put in details to make it clear.

What do I do on the day of the hearing?

Before you arrive

  • Find out the tribunal's address and check the location on a map.
  • Organise transport to the tribunal, allowing time to arrive half an hour before the hearing.
  • Look clean, neat and respectable.
  • Bring all of your documents including the application form, affidavits and other evidence.
  • Bring a pen and some note paper to record anything you might want to remember later to say to the member or adjudicator when the appropriate moment arises. It is ok to read from notes in the hearing room.
  • As hearing rooms can feel daunting, especially the first time, you may appreciate the support of a friend or family member. Ask them to attend the tribunal with you.

When you arrive

  • Meet your witnesses outside the tribunal at least 15 minutes before your scheduled hearing time.
  • Find your name or case number on the electronic listing board or list displayed in the registry.
  • Wait for your hearing outside the hearing room.
  • You will be called into the hearing room when the member or adjudicator is ready to begin.

When you are called

  • Speak clearly and follow the member or adjudicator's instructions.
  • Address the member or adjudicator as "Sir" or "Madam"; address a judge or magistrate as "Your Honour".
  • The member or adjudicator may ask if there is any chance you and the respondent could reach an agreement about your dispute. If the answer is yes, then you will be directed outside to negotiate privately with the other person.
  • If you reach an agreement the member or adjudicator will record the terms of the agreement.
  • If you cannot reach an agreement the hearing will continue before the member or adjudicator.

What happens at the hearing?

You tell your story and present your evidence

  • Before you tell the member or adjudicator your side of the story, you will be asked to swear on oath or affirm (promise) to tell the truth. It is a crime to give false evidence before the tribunal.
  • The member or adjudicator may ask you questions during your presentation.
  • When you have finished, the respondent can ask you questions.

Your witnesses give their evidence

  • Witnesses wait outside the hearing room until they are called one at a time. Each witness is required to swear an oath or affirm to tell the truth. You can then ask your witness questions. For example, if the witness is there to support your story that you loaned Mary Johanssen $9500 you could ask: "Do you remember when Mary Johanssen came to my house to ask for
    a loan? Can you tell the tribunal what happened?".
  • The member or adjudicator may question your witnesses at any time while they provide their evidence.
  • When you and the member or adjudicator have finished questioning the witnesses, the respondent may also question them.

The respondent provides their evidence

  • When all your witnesses have finished giving their evidence, the respondent will take an oath or affirm to tell the truth and give their side of the story.
  • The adjudicator can question the respondent at any time. You may not interrupt but you should take notes about anything you disagree with so you can raise this with them when you are asking your questions.
  • When the respondent finishes their side of the story, you can ask them questions.

The respondent’s witnesses provide their evidence

  • The respondent's witnesses will be called into the hearing room one at a time to give their evidence.
  • The respondent may question the witnesses at any time while they provide their evidence.
  • When the member or adjudicator and the respondent have finished questioning the respondent's witnesses, you may also question them.

What if the hearing takes place and I (or the respondent) could not attend?

You should make every attempt to attend the hearing date and time scheduled by the tribunal. If circumstances that prevent you from attending the hearing arise before the scheduled hearing date, advise the tribunal by fax or in writing as soon as possible. The respondent can also take this action. If you have a sound reason the tribunal may adjourn the hearing. A sound reason would have to be something like a medical emergency where circumstances were beyond your control.

If the hearing has already taken place, ask the tribunal for a Form 43 - Application for reopening, correction, renewal or amendment.

The adjudicator’s decision

After hearing everyone's evidence, the adjudicator will make a decision. The member or adjudicator might:

  • agree with your case
  • agree with the respondent's case
  • agree with only part of your case.

After the member or adjudicator has made a decision, they will make an order you and the respondent must follow.

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