The Queensland Law Society has called for changes to the
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act2009 to allow legal representation where the amount in
dispute in legal proceedings is over $15,000, or where the matter
involves the application of statute law or common law
Here, senior associate Anthony Pitt explains why the Law Society
has called for these changes, and outlines the current rules
related to legal representation for those involved in proceedings
in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
The Queensland Law Society's deputy president has stated
that QCAT's current position on legal representation has the
"potential to cause miscarriage of justice on a significant
The changes suggested by the Queensland Law Society would mean
that parties with a dispute worth more than $15,000, or that
involves the application of statute law or common law principles,
would be permitted to be represented in the Tribunal by a
If these changes were to be implemented, we would expect to see
Tribunal hearings become more streamlined, with more sophisticated
and informed legal arguments that are directed at relevant issues
in QCAT proceedings.
The current rules for QCAT proceedings
The changes proposed by the Queensland Law Society are outlined
in its Call to Parties - Consultation Draft released late
last year. This is one of 11 legal and social 'priority
issues' that have been promoted to political parties in the
lead up to the State election.
Currently, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act
says that both parties must represent themselves in proceedings
unless the interests of justice require otherwise, such as
the party is a child or a person with impaired capacity;
the proceeding relates to a disciplinary action;
representation is granted by an enabling Act or rules; or
the Tribunal has given the party permission to be
In deciding whether to allow a party to have legal
representation, the Tribunal may consider whether:
the party is a State agency;
the proceeding is likely to involve complex questions of fact
another party to the proceeding is represented; or
all parties have agreed to the person being represented.
QCAT handles more than 30,000 cases each year. Queensland Law
Society deputy president Annette Bradfield has stated that the
current position on legal representation has the "potential to
cause miscarriage of justice on a significant scale".
Mrs Bradfield noted that the Society's pro bono service saw
many cases that were essentially a David vs Goliath battle,
pointing to an individual home owner's dispute with a builder
as an example. She stated:
If you're a home owner and have a dispute with your
builder over tens of thousands of dollars, you have to appear
before court on your own... the large organisation at the other end
of the dispute can only have one representative as well, but
it's more than likely this would be the contracts manager, or
even a technical specialist who has expertise in these
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