In Queensland, almost all disputes will be dealt with by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), the Magistrate’s Court, District Court or Supreme Court. It simply depends on the amount of money in dispute as to which court you will go to.
What are the thresholds of the monetary orders in Queensland?
- Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT): For amounts up to and including $25,000;
- Magistrates Court: For amounts up to and including $150,000;
- District Court: For amounts over $150,000 and up to and including $750,000; and
- Supreme Court: For amounts above $750,000.
What is QCAT and how does it work?
QCAT is technically not a court. It deals with residential tenancy disputes, adult guardianship and administration matters, building disputes, anti-discrimination matters and retail shop lease disputes up to the value of $25,000.
Two major differences between QCAT and the other courts are that:
- Each party usually bears their own costs in QCAT, whereas in court, there is a presumption that the losing party will pay the winning parties’ legal costs; and
- In QCAT, the default position for most people is to represent themselves, whereas in court, you are mostly represented by a lawyer.
In QCAT, matters are heard and decided by tribunal members, adjudicators (minor civil disputes), magistrates (minor civil disputes) and trained Justices of the Peace (some minor civil disputes as part of a trial program).
Enforcing QCAT money orders
While QCAT might feel a bit less formal than the courtroom and a little more like mediation, all decisions handed down are still legally enforceable. The big difference here is that the party whose favour the decision has been in is responsible for enforcing the agreed decision, not the Tribunal. For example, in the case of monetary orders, whereby a party must pay you a sum of money, you must apply to the appropriate court to have your decision enforced.
The steps to enforce a QCAT decision are:
- Write a letter to the enforcement debtor;
- Register the decision in a Magistrates Court;
- Consider the financial situation of the enforcement debtor and, if necessary, apply for an enforcement hearing; and
- Apply for an enforcement warrant.
You may enforce a judgment for a monetary sum at any time within six years from the date of the decision. If you do not enforce the decision within this six year time frame you may lose the right to do so.
One of the great advantages of QCAT is that the matters will often proceed on a much shorter time frame and in a much more orderly fashion than court hearings, often providing you with a much more cost-effective and timely resolution.
For further support
Our team has a wide range of experience in advising clients on the circumstances where it is appropriate to proceed in QCAT or the courts, and in advising on recovery of orders made by QCAT. For advice on pursuing your matter in QCAT or elsewhere, contact our experienced team today.