Recovering Minor Debts In QCAT
When it comes to recovering debt in Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), there are several steps you should take. The process can be complicated, but if done correctly, you can recover your money quickly and efficiently.
Typically, the person or business that owes you money will be located in Queensland, this will help determine which court has jurisdiction over the case. You must then decide whether or not QCAT is the best option for your situation. QCAT can hear Minor Civil Debt Disputes up to $25,000. Higher debts may instead require legal action through another court system, such as Magistrates Court or Supreme Court.
Another important consideration is the complexity of your matter. One of the objectives of QCAT is to have the tribunal deal with matters in a way that is accessible, fair, just, economical, informal, and quick. Therefore, if you wish to have legal representation, you will need to apply to QCAT for leave to be legally represented in your matter, which QCAT usually only accepts for simple matters. Further, each party is often liable for their own legal costs, meaning that it is improbable that you will recover any of your legal costs, other than the QCAT application fee, should you win your matter.
If you have determined that QCAT suits your needs, you must prepare an application form detailing why you believe the other person or business owes you money and how much they owe overall. Your application must include supporting evidence, for example, invoices and/or contracts demonstrating what was agreed upon between both parties at the start of the agreement/transaction. Once completed accurately with all necessary documents attached, you can file this form and any applicable fees directly to QCAT online via their website https://www.qcat-qld-gov-au/.
Once your application is correctly filed with QCAT, you must serve the other party (known as the Respondent) within 90 days of the filing date. Generally, if the Respondent is an individual or a business, you will need to serve the documents to them personally. However, if the Respondent is a corporation, it is possible to leave the documents at, or post them to, the company’s registered office. After you have served the Respondent, you will need to complete an Affidavit of Service, which you can download from the QCAT website.
The Respondent must respond within 28 days; otherwise, QCAT may make a default judgment in your favour. If a response is received, QCAT will either list the matter for a hearing or order the parties to attempt to resolve the matter through mediation in order to avoid a hearing. If the parties cannot resolve the matter at mediation, then QCAT will list the matter for a hearing. QCAT publishes on its website the average timeframes for when you can expect your matter to be heard.
Following these steps should help ensure success and fast recovery of funds owed without relying upon a legal representative. However, the QCAT process can feel like a daunting task, and Leora Rose Law can assist you with your QCAT application and hearing preparation, or at any other step of the way.