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QCAT: What happens at a hearing

Jan 2016

Do your clients know what to do if they have a hearing at QCAT? Help them prepare for a hearing.

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How will I know the hearing has been scheduled?

If your matter is scheduled for a hearing, you will receive a notice from QCAT.

Read your notice of hearing carefully to confirm the time, date and location of your hearing. For minor civil disputes like residential tenancy matters, a number of hearings are set for the same timeslot.

Who will be in charge of my hearing?

The QCAT decision-maker in a residential tenancy dispute will usually be an adjudicator, a Justice of the Peace (JP) hearing matters as part of the JP trial, or (outside of Brisbane) a magistrate acting as a QCAT member.

Before the hearing

  • Switch off your mobile phone before you enter the hearing room.
  • Arrange your files and documents for easy access.

What happens when I arrive for the hearing?

  • At most venues, your hearing room will be listed on an electronic display. In some locations, Court Network volunteers (wearing pink lanyards) may assist.
  • A QCAT Hearing Support Officer (HSO) will announce the matter name (the names of the parties involved) and take your name.
  • Tell the HSO:
    • if you have any witnesses
    • if you have any special needs
    • if you require the use of electronic equipment to present evidence.
  • The HSO will advise you when the hearing room is open and escort each party into the hearing room.

The start of the hearing

  • Stand until the decision-maker invites you to sit down. The decision-maker will introduce themselves and explain how the hearing will proceed.
  • The decision-maker will ask all parties to identify themselves to ensure names are read correctly into the tribunal record.
  • Both parties have a chance to tell the decision-maker about the case and their witnesses. The applicant usually goes first.

Evidence and witnesses

  • If you want to call witnesses and you have not filed their statement, the decision-maker may refuse to hear their evidence. If the decision-maker does accept the evidence, the hearing might be adjourned (postponed to a later date) at your cost.
  • The decision-maker will guide you through the process of calling and questioning witnesses.
  • The other party and the decision-maker may ask the witness questions. This is called cross-examination. After cross-examination, you can question your witness again to clarify any points.

During the hearing

  • Tribunal procedure is based on respect and courtesy. This helps hearings proceed quickly and efficiently for all parties.
  • The decision-maker will call you by your title and family name ‘Mr Smith’ or ‘Ms Jones’. You should call the decision-maker ‘Mr Smith’ or ‘Ms Jones’, or by their title if they are a magistrate e.g. ‘Judge Jones’.
  • Please listen closely to any instructions from the decision-maker.
  • Do not interrupt. If you disagree with information provided by the other party, make a note and correct them when it is your turn to speak.

At the end of the hearing

  • After the evidence, the decision-maker will ask for closing submissions; you will have an opportunity to add any additional relevant information.
  • The decision-maker will make a decision based on the law and the evidence.
  • The tribunal may announce its decision at the hearing. If it needs more time to consider a case, it may announce the decision later (a reserved decision).
  • If the decision-maker decides another hearing is required, you may get the new hearing date before you leave. If not, you will be advised as soon as possible.

Read more about hearings on the QCAT website.

For QCAT decisions in residential tenancy matters, go to the Supreme Court Library Queensland website – Residential tenancy matters