Civil Law QLD encompasses a very wide variety of legal issues. If you are faced with a civil law issue, it is important to seek advice from a lawyer who has experience in this particular field of law. Civil claims in Queensland are commenced either through the QLD court system, or in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
The jurisdiction (or legal institution) in which your case will be heard will depend on the type of civil matter, and in some cases the amount of damages you may be claiming. In late 2009, QCAT, Queensland’s ‘super tribunal’, came into existence, amalgamating some 19 different tribunals. QCAT was provided with the power to review many decisions that previously had to be heard in the Courts. Removing some of the matters from the Courts and placing them within QCAT means (at least in theory!) that matters can be dealt with more quickly, easily and, therefore, cheaply. For example, QCAT is not bound by the same rules of evidence and procedural rules as the QLD courts.
It is imperative that you obtain legal advice as to in which jurisdiction your claim should be commenced, and any time limitations that may apply.
QCAT deals with various civil matters of Civil Law QLD including:
- all minor debt recovery of less than $25,000
- complaints of harassment and discrimination
- building disputes
- adoption applications
- blue card applications
- consumer and trade disputes up to the value of $25,000
- guardianship for adults
- residential tenancy disputes
- dividing fence disputes
- occupational regulation, and
- administrative reviews.
Each of these matters has its own application form, fee and lodging requirements.
Legal Representation in QCAT
QCAT is committed to resolving disputes and may order parties to attend mediation or compulsory conferencing in the hope that matter can be resolved. The benefits of dispute resolution are:
- to assist to identify the issues that need be resolved
- the possible early resolution of the matter
- reduced stress due to the more informal nature,
- improved likelihood of an ongoing relationship between the parties,
- reduced costs for the parties
- parties are provided with a better understanding of the powers of the tribunal, and
- tailor made solutions for how the matter will be proceeding.
Enforcement of QCAT orders must be done through the Court System.
QLD Civil Court System
All other Civil Law QLD matters are dealt with through the normal court system. The Magistrates Court will decide disputes on matters that are less than $150,000. The District Court will determine disputes of more than $150,000 but less than $750,000. The Supreme Court will hear all matters of $750,000 or greater.
Depending on the complexity of the matter a jury may be used to decide the disputes in the District or Supreme Court, though this is fairly uncommon. The Supreme Court will normally also deal with matters relating to non-monetary relief such as enforcing a contract, forcing the sale of a property, probate, challenging a will, or if the matter relates to the principles of equity.
Generally, in QLD all civil proceedings are commenced by filing in the Court a Statement of Claim. Once you have served the Statement of Claim on the Defendant they have 28 days to file a defence. If they fail to do so you can may make an application for default judgment.
QLD Civil Law Legislation
Each court and tribunal has specific legislation relating to their individual function and authority. QCAT for example, is governed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009.
There are also individual pieces of legislation relating to different types of civil issues which will outline:
- time limitations
- any cause of action, remedies and damages that can be awarded, and
- jurisdictional requirements specific to that matter.
The Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 sets out the rules and procedures for commencing civil proceedings through the Courts, and is the legislation to which the courts most often refer in QLD civil law. Other legislation to which reference is commonly made in civil law in QLD includes: