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The hearing

What should 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 starts.
  • Dress neatly.
  • Bring all of your documents about the case including affidavits, quotes or receipts for repairs, photos etc.
  • Bring a pen and note paper.

When you arrive

  • Meet any witnesses who are coming to the tribunal to provide evidence for you.
  • Wait with your witnesses for your hearing outside the adjudicator’s room. When the adjudicator is ready to start, they will call the claimant and respondent into the hearing room. Witnesses wait outside the room until they are called.

When you are called

  • Speak clearly and follow the member or adjudicator’s instructions.
  • Address the member or adjudicator in the following way:
    Member Guideline Example
    Judge Refer to the judge as “Your Honour” “Yes, your Honour”
    Senior Member Refer to the member as “Senior Member” “Yes, Senior Member”
    Member (including ordinary members and judicial members) Refer to the member as “Member” followed by their surname “Yes, Member Smith”
    Adjudicator Refer to the Adjudicator as “Mr/Ms/Mrs” “Yes, Mr Jones”
    Justices of the Peace Refer to the Justices of the Peace as “Mr/Ms/Mrs” “Yes, Mr Jones”
    Source: QCAT Practice Direction No 1 of 2014
  • The member or adjudicator will ask if there is any chance you and the other person could reach an agreement about the dispute. If there is a chance, you will be left to negotiate privately.
  • If you reach an agreement, the member or adjudicator will record the terms of the agreement.
  • If you can’t reach an agreement, the hearing will continue in front of the member or adjudicator.
  • If the member or adjudicator considers the matter should be dealt with by a court or another tribunal, the member or adjudicator may transfer the matter.

What happens at the hearing?

Before anyone provides evidence to the tribunal, they will be asked to swear an oath on a holy book or affirm (promise) to tell the truth. It is a crime to give false evidence before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

When giving evidence, it is important to make sure what you say is relevant and to the point. Present your case in a business-like manner. Even though you might be upset or nervous about the situation, emotional outbursts will not help your case so try to keep calm.

What if I can’t come to the hearing?

The tribunal may continue with a hearing in your absence so if you cannot attend you have several options which are listed below.

  • If you or any of your witnesses can’t come to the tribunal on the set date, write to the tribunal as soon as possible, telling them why your witnesses can’t attend (you must have a good reason) and ask for another date for the hearing.
  • You may apply to the tribunal to attend the hearing by remote conferencing. You will need to complete and lodge an Application for attendance at hearing, compulsory conference or mediation by remote conferencing, which is available on the QCAT website. The application contains instructions for completing. You will need to explain why you cannot attend the tribunal in person and whether you intend to attend by videoconferencing or teleconferencing.
  • You can ask the tribunal to allow a person of your choice to represent you at the hearing. To do this, lodge an Application for leave to be represented (Form 56), which is available on the QCAT website. The application contains instructions for completing. Even when someone represents you, you still need to send your affidavit to the hearing.

1. The claimant tells their story and gives their evidence

The adjudicator will invite the claimant to tell their side of the story under oath. The adjudicator may ask questions at any time during the presentation.

When the claimant has finished giving evidence, the adjudicator will invite the respondent to ask the claimant questions.

2. The claimant’s witnesses give their evidence

The claimant’s witnesses will be called into the room one at a time to tell their story under oath. The adjudicator may ask questions at any time during their presentations.
When each witness has finished giving evidence, the adjudicator will ask the respondent if they have any questions to ask the witnesses.

3. The respondent tells their story and gives their evidence

Now it is the respondent’s turn to tell their side of the story under oath. As before, the adjudicator can ask questions at any time.

When the respondent has finished presenting their side of the story, the adjudicator will invite the claimant to question the respondent.

Even if you disagree with what the other person is saying, do not interrupt. Take notes about anything you disagree with, so you can raise these issues when it is your turn to question the other person.

4. The respondent’s witnesses give their evidence

The respondent’s witnesses are then called into the hearing room one at a time to give their evidence.

Again, the adjudicator may question the witnesses at any time while they provide their evidence.

When the respondent and the adjudicator have finished questioning the respondent’s witnesses, the claimant may also question them.

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