What is a debt dispute?

Debt disputes exist where an individual disagrees with another person, business or company about a specified sum, valued up to and including $25 000.

Debt disputes may be commenced in relation to money owed for:

  • an unpaid invoice or account
  • IOUs
  • unpaid rental or hire fees (excluding residential tenancy matters)
  • goods or services provided for a previously determined price
  • money lent and not repaid
  • dishonoured cheques

Who may commence a debt dispute?

Any person may commence a debt dispute, provided the debt:

  • is valued at no more than $25 000;
  • arises from a prior agreement regarding payment of a sum of money; and
  • derives from an agreement that is no more than six year old

Where a debt exceeds $25 000, but is no more than $150 000, claims are to be lodged with the Magistrates Court. For all debts exceeding this amount, disputes are to be heard in either the Supreme or District Court.

How can I resolve the dispute?

The first step in the debt recovery process is to issue the other party with a letter of demand. This letter must outline the dispute, including the outstanding sum and a defined period of time within which the dispute must be settled before legal action is commenced.

What is the QCAT Application Process?

Where parties fail to reach an agreement in the specified time frame, they may apply to have the matter heard by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Lodging an application

Applicants must complete and lodge Form 3 – Application for minor civil dispute – minor debt, either in person, via post or online. Once QCAT has received the application and the accompanying application fee, they will return two stamped copies of the application – one for your records and one for the respondent. You must personally hand the respondent their copy as soon as practicable, and no later than 90 days after lodging the application.

Responding to an application

The respondent will then have 28 days from the date of service to file a response to the application. Where the respondent fails to respond to the application within this timeframe, you may apply to the tribunal seeking a default decision ending the matter, by lodging Form 6 – Request for decision by default – minor civil dispute – minor debt.

Where a response is lodged and the dispute relates to an amount exceeding $3000, the parties will be issued a notice to attend mediation. If the matter is unable to be resolved in mediation, it will be heard before the tribunal and a final decision will be made. If the amount in contention is less than $3000, the matter will advance directly to the tribunal for hearing.