Main Content Anchor

Legal words and phrases explained

We have described these words as we use them in this guide. If you are still not sure what a certain term means, get legal advice.

Adjudicator —a decision maker of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Affidavit —a statement sworn under oath in the presence of a commissioner of declarations, justice of the peace or a lawyer.

Affirm (affirmation) —a spoken declaration where you promise to tell the truth when giving information or evidence to the tribunal or writing it in an affidavit. You can make an affirmation if you do not want to swear an oath on a Bible or other sacred book.

Applicant — a person who makes an application to the tribunal.

Contract — an agreement between two people, which the law recognises as legally binding.

Dispute resolution — a procedure designed to resolve disputes between people. It usually involves people working out their difference in a non-court setting with an independent mediator helping them to come to an agreement.

Evidence —the proof needed to support your side of the story. Evidence is usually given verbally in the tribunal.

Filing documents — see Lodging documents.

Hearing —where evidence is given to the tribunal from all people involved in a case and a decision is made.

Justice of the peace — a person recognised by law who helps with the legal process by witnessing documents and other duties. This is the person you must ask to witness you signing your affidavit.

Legal costs — the costs involved in taking a case to the tribunal, such as the costs of lawyers and the cost of filing documents with the tribunal.

Lodging documents — the process where documents are received and accepted by the tribunal. The person lodging the documents may need to pay an application fee. Usually the tribunal will stamp its seal on the filed document.

Magistrate — the name for the decision maker in the Magistrates Court. You call the magistrate 'Your Honour'.

Magistrates court — the Magistrates Court deals with civil claims up to $150,000.

Mediation — a dispute resolution process run by an independent third person, who helps people to reach agreement through the process of discussion and negotiation, without entering into the content of the dispute.

Member — a decision maker of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Oath — 'taking the oath' means swearing on the Bible or other sacred book that you will tell or have told the truth. If you do not believe in the Bible or other sacred book, you can affirm that the content of the affidavit is true.

Order —an order is made by the tribunal requiring a person to do something, eg repay a debt.

Party — a person involved in the dispute, eg the applicant (you) and the respondent.

Process server — a person who delivers or 'serves' tribunal documents by handing them to the person concerned.

Respondent — the person or business you have a claim against.

Served — the process where a person is presented with official tribunal documents.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) — a tribunal dealing with minor debts of $25,000 or less, disputes of $25,000 or less between consumers
and traders, or traders and traders, motor vehicle property damage claims, tenancy disputes and disputes under the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003.

Trader - a person, or business entity, who carries on a business of supplying goods or services and is not regarded as a professional (for example, doctors, dentists and lawyers are professionals).

Witness — a person who saw or heard something about your case and is called to give this evidence before the tribunal.

Back to top