How are Civil and Commercial Disputes resolved in Queensland?

We aim to deliver Just, Redemptive Outcomes®

What is a Civil or Commercial Dispute?

It is easier to explain what a civil and commercial dispute is by outlining what it is not.  Civil or commercial disputes are not criminal prosecutions or family law disputes.  Basically, any dispute dealing with money or property is a civil dispute.  This includes disputes between buyers and sellers, rental disputes, negligence claims against lawyers or doctor, anti-discrimination claims, will disputes and compensation claims.

Where do I go if I have a Civil or Commercial Dispute in Queensland?

Almost all disputes in Queensland will be dealt with by QCAT, the Magistrate’s Court, District Court or Supreme Court.

Which court or tribunal you go to is usually determined by the amount of money in dispute.  As at 17 May 2011 the money limits are:

  1. QCAT can decide simple disputes up to $25,000
  2. The Magistrates Court deals with claims up to $150,000
  3. The District Court deals with disputes involving amounts between $150,000 and $750,000; and
  4. The Supreme Court all matters over $750,000 (plus most deceased estate and wills disputes).

What is QCAT and how is it different to the other Courts?

QCAT stands for “Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal”.  QCAT is a tribunal and, technically, is not a court.  The processes of QCAT are less formal than the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts (however, for most people, the process will still feel very formal and structured).

QCAT is a mega tribunal taking over the role of a number of other tribunals in Queensland.

QCAT deals with a range of different types of disputes (in addition to relatively simple disputes of up to $25,000) including residential tenancy disputes, adult guardianship and administration matters, building disputes, anti-discrimination matters, and retail shop lease disputes.

Two major differences between QCAT and the other courts is that in most minor debt disputes:

  1. in the courts there is a presumption that the losing party will pay the winning parties’ legal costs whereas at QCAT it is more usual that each party bears their own costs;
  2. in the courts there is a right to be represented by a lawyer whereas in QCAT the default position is that parties will represent themselves.

Even though you might not have a right to legal representation at QCAT, there is nothing stopping you from seeking advice from a lawyer on how you should handle the dispute.

If you are involved in any dispute, whether as a plaintiff or a defendant, and seek advice in relation to the legal process please contact us to discuss.

What next? Contact one of our Business Development Officers today …

Business Development Officers

We now have a dedicated team of Business Development Officers to assist you in engaging with us. Our Business Development Officers will assist you with:

  • understanding what your need is and what your time frames are
  • identifying the best lawyer on our team for you and your need
  • explaining what it will cost
  • explaining what you need to do next and what initial information you will need to have for us
  • getting your initial appointment locked in
  • hearing your feedback so that we can always be improving our services

Communication with our Business Development Officers is absolutely free. Call (07 3252 0011) or email one of our Business Development Officers (General Enquiry) now.