Appeal a QCAT Decision

Can I appeal a QCAT decision?

Not all QCAT decisions can be appealed. Whether or not a decision can be appealed, where it can be appealed to, and the process of the appeal, differs depending on the type of decision made and the circumstances supporting the reasoning (grounds) for the appeal.

Whether or not a decision can be appealed is a matter which is regulated by both the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) (“QCAT Act”) and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2009 (Qld) (“QCAT Rules”).

Minor civil disputes can be appealed in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Appeal Tribunal (QCAT Appeal Tribunal). However, only decisions made by ‘non-judicial’ members of QCAT can be appealed to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal. Decisions on costs, or decisions made by judicial members of QCAT must be appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal. Additionally, if an application for leave to appeal to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal is refused, that decision can be appealed to the Court of Appeal.

An application for appeal, whether to the QCAT Appeals Tribunal or the Queensland Court of Appeal, can be submitted on the basis of:

A question of fact

A question of fact means that you believe that the decision made was wrong in relation to the facts or evidence of the case (e.g. the decision-maker misread or misinterpreted the evidence).

A question of law

A question of law means that you believe that the decision made was wrong in relation to a legal aspect of the matter (i.e. the decision-maker misinterpreted the meaning of relevant legislation applied, or the decision-maker applied the wrong law to the facts of the case).

A question of both fact and law

A question of fact and law means that you believe that the decision-maker was wrong both in relation to the facts of the case and in relation to how the law was applied to the case (e.g. they misread the evidence and applied the wrong law to the facts of the case).

Leave to appeal will need to be sought where the decision being appealed is a decision in a proceeding for a minor civil dispute, a decision which is not the tribunal’s final decision in a proceeding, or a costs order.

Regardless of the basis for making the application, you must provide the reasons (grounds) for appealing the original decision and the evidence supporting your reasoning(s) for why there has been an error or injustice made.

Which QCAT decisions cannot be appealed?

It is important to note that you may not appeal a QCAT decision merely because:

  • You do not agree with the evidence that has been relied on
  • You failed to provide all relevant evidence at the first hearing
  • You do not agree with the decision generally
  • You want a second chance to present your matter in order to obtain a more favourable outcome

If you appeal on the basis of any of the above, it is more than likely that your appeal will be denied. However, even if your intention to appeal falls outside the reasonings noted above, not every QCAT decision can be appealed.

Some examples of QCAT decisions that generally cannot be appealed include:

  • A decision made under section 35 of the QCAT Act, being a decision to accept or reject an application or referral;
  • A default decision;
  • A decision to re-open a proceeding;
  • A direction to accept an application made by QCAT to the Principal Registrar;
  • A direction to reject an application made by QCAT to the Principal Registrar;
  • A decision to accept an application made by the Principal Registrar or delegate; or
  • A decision to reject an application made by the Principal Registrar or delegate.

If QCAT’s Principal Registrar refuses or places conditions on an application, the decision can be reviewed by a member of the tribunal. However, the decision of the tribunal will then be final and cannot be appealed further.

What should I do to decide whether or not to appeal a QCAT decision?

Deciding whether or not to appeal a QCAT decision can be tricky. Before you decide to appeal a QCAT decision, you need to make sure that you fully understand the reasons behind the decision made. You are entitled to request reasons for the decision within 14 days after the decision comes into effect (usually the day the decision was made). QCAT then has 45 days to provide you with either a written transcript or voice recording justifying the reasons behind the decision made.

In reviewing the reasons provided, it is important to identify any error that you believe may justify appealing the decision. At this stage, you should seek legal advice in order to determine whether an appeal may be possible in the circumstances, and if so, whether this will be the wisest course of action.

How can a lodge an application to appeal a QCAT decision?

If you decide that you do want to appeal your QCAT decision, and you have determined that the original decision made is a decision that can be appealed, you must submit an application with QCAT.

You must lodge your appeal by submitting the following form with QCAT:

In your application, you must state the reasons why you believe QCAT made an error and why there has been a substantial injustice. A substantial injustice does not occur just because you lost your case. You must refer to the relevant evidence you have previously provided to QCAT and any other reasons to support your application that will assist in proving your case.

It is important to note that the QCAT Appeal Tribunal will generally only reconsider all of the original evidence providing during the initial hearing and will only rarely, in special circumstances, consider new evidence. The outcome of the appeal may be to confirm or amend the decision, to set aside the decision, or a requirement for the original decision-maker to reconsider the matter.

Time Limitation to Appeal

If you wish to appeal a QCAT decision, you must act fast. The time limit for lodging an appeal against a QCAT decision is within 28 days of:

  • Receiving notice of the decision where reasons were not required to be provided;
  • Receiving notice of the decision where reasons were not requested within 14 days; or
  • The day you were provided written reasons for the decision where reasons were requested or provided.

If you are filing an appeal which requires leave, the appeal must be filed within 21 days of leave being given.

If you do not lodge your application to appeal within the stipulated time period, QCAT may refuse your application. However, the QCAT Appeal Tribunal may grant an extension of time to lodge an application to appeal upon request in limited circumstances where the Tribunal considers there is a good reason for the delay.

Will lodging the application stop me from having to comply with the original decision?

An original decision made by QCAT will generally take effect immediately after the decision has been made. As such, it will be binding even if you decide to lodge an application for leave to appeal.

However, you may apply to have either the Court of Appeal, or the QCAT Appeal Tribunal, ‘stay’ the original decision (i.e. stop the original decision from taking effect) until after your application to appeal the decision has been decided. The Court of Appeal or QCAT Appeal Tribunal will consider a number of facts in determining whether or not to stay the original decision, including the strength of your case, any money considerations and the balance of convenience between the parties should the decision be stayed.

How we can help

Appealing a QCAT decision can be difficult and complex. Even in circumstances where you might have reasonable grounds to appeal, you may not be successful if your case is not presented in the proper way. Although QCAT generally does not allow legal representation in appeals, we can still help you with providing legal advice, as well as preparing, drafting and submitting documents for your appeal.

Call Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers today and enjoy and free and confidential consultation discussing your legal rights and options.

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