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Start a minor debt dispute

A minor debt dispute is a disagreement between you and another person, business or company over an agreed and fixed amount of money, or liquidated demand, up to $25,000.

In Queensland, minor debt disputes are heard and decided by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Debt disputes may be started over money owed for:

  • loans not repaid
  • IOUs
  • an unpaid invoice, account or demand
  • dishonoured cheques
  • work done and/or goods supplied with the cost having been agreed beforehand
  • unpaid rental or hire fees (except for residential tenancy matters).

Who can start a minor debt dispute

Any member of the public can start a minor debt dispute, including individuals or entities such as businesses or corporations.

To start a minor debt dispute with us the debt must:

  • be no more than $25,000
  • involve a previous agreement about payment of an amount of money
  • have happened no more than 6 years ago (the date the agreement was made).

If the respondent lives interstate, you can still start a minor debt dispute with QCAT.

Who cannot start a minor debt dispute

You cannot start a minor debt dispute with us if:

  • the debt amount is more than $25,000
  • there was no previous agreement for the money to be paid
  • your dispute is with a consumer or trader, or relates to a contract for the supply of goods and/or services where the amount was not agreed beforehand
  • the debt is for
    • the repair of a defect on a motor vehicle
    • damage to property caused by a motor vehicle or from the use of a motor vehicle
    • unpaid wages covered under the Fair Work Act.

Debts over $25,000

We cannot deal with disputes involving debts over $25,000.

If the amount owing is more than $25,000 you may choose to reduce your claim to $25,000 to lodge it with us.

If someone owes you an amount up to $150,000 you may be able to lodge a civil claim in the Magistrates Court.

If you are owed more than $150,000, you need to have the dispute heard in either the Supreme Court or the District Court.

If you are unsure, you should get independent legal advice.

How to complete this form

To complete this form you will need:

  • the respondent’s full name. There can be more than one respondent
  • the registered business or company name and the ABN/ACN, if the respondent is a business or company—do an ASIC company or business name search to make sure these details are correct
  • the respondent’s contact details, including the proper address (i.e. not a post office box)
  • details of the debt, including:
    • the date(s) and place it happened
    • the fixed or agreed amount
    • the terms of the agreement (including whether it was a written or verbal agreement)
  • supporting documents, including a copy of the agreement (if you have one)
  • if you are claiming interest, the amount of interest and how it was calculated—you can calculate interest using the courts’ interest calculator unless the interest rate is agreed between the parties
  • the amount you are seeking if you are claiming costs.

Lodging this application

When you complete this form you will be asked to nominate a QCAT location where your form will be lodged.

This location is also where your matter will be heard.

Unless ordered by the tribunal, your matter will remain in this location until it has been finalised.


We are trialling the electronic submission of registry matters in the Brisbane City tribunal.

If you select the Brisbane City tribunal as your nominated location, you do not need to print this application to lodge at QCAT. It will be lodged with us automatically when you submit it.

Outside of Brisbane

For all locations outside of the tribunal in Brisbane City, you must print your application after completing it online and lodge it at the QCAT location you have nominated.

You can lodge it in person or by post the nominated Magistrates Court.

When lodging by post or in person you must lodge:

  • your original application and copies of any attached documents
  • an extra copy of the application and attached documents each for
    • yourself
    • the respondent
    • each additional respondent.

You must lodge your application at the location you have specified when completing the application form.

Paying the application fee

To finalise your application you need to pay an application fee. At the end of this form you will be automatically directed to a secure payment gateway to pay online using your credit or debit card.

The application fee may be claimable as costs as part of your application.

What you must do next

QCAT will seal your application (i.e. stamp it with the official QCAT stamp) and return it to you.

You must give (serve) a sealed copy to each of the respondents with a copy of any attached documents as soon as possible within 90 days of lodging your application.

You can do this yourself, or employ someone to do it for you. You can find contact details in the phone book for a magistrates court bailiff, commercial agent or process server to serve the documents on your behalf.

You may be able to claim any fees you pay to serve the documents as costs and you can include this in your application.

What happens next?

If the respondent pays the money they owe when they receove their copy of your application, you may wish to finalise your matter and notify us of your withdrawal.

Otherwise, the respondent has 28 days from when they receive your application to lodge a response.

If they do not respond in time, you may be able to apply for a default decision to end the matter. A decision by default means we will make a decision on your case from the paperwork received.

There are steps you need to follow to apply for a default decision and you will not be required to attend mediation or a hearing. Contact QCAT or your nearest magistrates court registry for more information.

Amounts above $3,000

If the respondent lodges a response and the amount you are claiming is more than $3,000 you will be contacted by QCAT to attend mediation. If you don’t attend the mediation your application may continue to be heard in your absence and a decision made on the available evidence.

Amounts up to $3,000

If the respondent lodges a response and the amount you are claiming is $3,000 or less, your matter will be listed for hearing. We will send a notice to advise you of the date, time and location of your hearing.

You may be required to give us extra copies of your application before the hearing.

Legal advice

If you are unsure about your legal rights, you should get independent legal advice.

Contact QCAT

You can contact the QCAT registry by:

For queries on minor civil dispute matters lodged outside the Brisbane registry, you will need to contact the registry where the application that started the proceeding was lodged.

To find your nearest magistrates court, visit the courts website.

Further information

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For debtors

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Last updated
1 June 2017
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