QCAT: What happens at a hearing
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.