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Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is an independent, accessible tribunal that efficiently resolves disputes on a range of matters.

The tribunal’s purpose is to provide a quick, inexpensive avenue to resolve disputes between parties and make decisions.

If you attend QCAT about a dispute, you are expected to represent yourself. This is central to their ability to deliver efficient, cost-effective justice services.

If you want a lawyer or other individual to represent you, you need to apply for permission from the tribunal.

Disputes QCAT can decide

QCAT has a wide-ranging jurisdiction, including:

Within these jurisdictions, we help resolve a variety of matters such as residential tenancy, neighbourhood dispute and guardianship matters.

How to apply to QCAT

To apply to QCAT:

  1. Choose the relevant matter type for your issue and review the application process.
  2. Download and complete the required form(s) and attach any supporting documentation.
  3. Lodge the form with QCAT according to the form’s instructions, along with the appropriate fee. If required, you can apply for financial hardship.

You may need to give copies of the documentation to all parties involved in the dispute. Read the form carefully to ensure you provide the correct number of copies.

Learn more about providing (or serving) documentation.

QCAT proceedings

Disputes can be resolved through hearing, mediation or compulsory conference.

Mediation helps parties reach an agreement through an independent mediator’s guidance.

Compulsory conferences help parties reach an agreement or clarify matters pre-hearing with the support of a QCAT member or adjudicator. The outcome is a written agreement or enforceable order.

Who makes the decisions

QCAT members and adjudicators hear matters and make decisions about matters.

Many QCAT members are part of the legal profession. Otherwise they have substantial, relevant experience in a particular profession that qualifies them to hear matters in those areas, such as legal, retail shop lease or children’s matters.

Adjudicators are solicitors who hear minor civil disputes and other types of matters.

Mediators help parties come to an agreement about their matters. Mediators are QCAT and Department of Justice and Attorney-General staff who are accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation System.

Justices of the Peace hear non-urgent minor civil disputes under $5,000 in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Maroochydore and Townsville.

Where proceedings take place

In Brisbane, QCAT’s proceedings are help in their office is in the CBD. Regional services are hosted in local magistrates courts.

You will be sent a letter advising when and where your proceeding will take place. If you are outside Brisbane, this is usually the magistrates court building where you lodged your application.

You can also apply to attend by phone or videoconference . Your application must be received at least 3 days before the proceeding.

What happens at proceedings

Depending on if you are attending a hearing, compulsory conference or mediation, there are slightly different guidelines regarding preparation, attendance and outcomes.

General advice includes:

  • preparing your evidence in advance
  • arriving at least 15 minutes before your proceeding’s start time
  • ensuring you listen carefully, are clear and to the point, and refrain from interrupting others.

Outcomes depend on the type of proceeding, its content and conduct and the decision-making requirements.

Help available

While QCAT expects individuals to represent themselves, the tribunal’s:

  • case managers guide people through legal processes
  • online resources step people through their matter
  • members help clarify issues and ensure proceedings remain on track at hearings.

LawRight provides free legal advice for Queenslanders, including QCAT clients.

Court Network helps people navigate court facilities and processes throughout Queensland, including QCAT Brisbane and the magistrates courts.

You can apply to be represented at a QCAT hearing . This can be granted if the party is a government agency or the matter is deemed complex.

In some cases, representation is automatically approved. This is usually:

  • matters involving children or people with impaired decision-making
  • disciplinary proceedings.

Learn more about legal advice and representation.

QCAT decisions

QCAT decisions and agreements are legally binding and enforceable.

Learn more about enforcing a QCAT outcome.