Litigation Process – Contract Disputes

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Practical legal advice in any contractual or business related dispute will provide a clear understanding of your options, whether you wish to take action against another party or if another party is taking action against you.   The early stages of any dispute are critical to protect your rights and produce results.  

Any sort of dispute, no matter the size, can be stressful and counter-productive to a successful business or working relationship.  Sometimes simple solutions or decisions made at an early stage can save thousands of dollars and hours.

We are experienced in all types of disputes having acted for individuals, corporations and businesses in the Magistrates, District, Supreme, Federal Courts and the various Tribunals.

Facing the Court system in Queensland can be a daunting process without the assistance of a lawyer experienced in dealing with the Courts at all levels.

It is the nature of the dispute and amount claimed that determines which court a matter will be heard in.  All of the courts can determine both criminal and civil matters, but there are restrictions. For example, the Magistrates Court can only hear civil matters involving a claim of less than $150,000.00.

It is important to choose the appropriate court because the court fees vary greatly and claiming in the wrong court can limit the amount of money you can recover. The jurisdictional limits of Queensland Courts changed on 1 November 2010. The new jurisdictional monetary limits are outlined below.

There are four levels of Courts in Queensland:

1.                 The Magistrates Court

If the debt owed to you is under $150,000.00 the Magistrates Court of Queensland will generally decide the matter.

In the Magistrates Court, you can issue a claim against a defendant for any amount up to $150,000. It can be for an agreed or fixed amount of money or it can be for unknown amounts such as damages for breach of contract. To commence an action a claim and statement of claim must be filed in the Court. The claim form is a brief description of what is being claimed from the defendant while the statement of claim outlines, in detail, the plaintiff’s claim.

 2.                   The District Court

A claim and statement of claim is also used to start proceedings for amounts from $150,000 to $750,000. Such actions are commenced in the District Court.

Disputes about zoning and subdivisions are brought before the Planning and Environment Court which is part of the District Court.

 3.                   The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is Queensland’s highest court. There is no maximum limit for civil claims in the Supreme Court.

A claim and statement of claim is used to start proceedings in the Supreme Court for amounts of $750,000.00 or more.

 4.                   The Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal is a division of the Supreme Court and hears appeals from the Supreme Court as well as the District Court. An appeal can only be successful if a mistake in law has been made. Mistakes of fact cannot be appealed.

5.         Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal

If the debt owed to you is under $25,000.00 the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) can deal with the matter. QCAT also deals with building disputes and the review of decisions by the Building Services Authority

QCAT began its operations on 1 December 2009, amalgamating 23 of the state’s tribunals and bodies into one. QCAT has similar powers to the Courts, but has its own set of forms, fees and rules of operations.

To commence proceedings in QCAT an Application is filed rather than a Claim and Statement of Claim.

There will be occasions where the interests of justice mean that a matter started in QCAT should be transferred to a Court. This may be decided because the subject matter would be more appropriately dealt with by a court or QCAT does not have the appropriate authority to complete the proceedings related to the matter. QCAT is able to transfer the proceedings to the relevant court either by application by the parties involved in an action or on its own initiative. The courts are also able to transfer an appropriate matter to QCAT.

At Ferguson Cannon Lawyers, we have extensive experience dealing with matters at all levels of the Queensland Court system. For further queries regarding your debt collection issues, please contact Byron Cannon, Director byron@fclawyers.com.au  or Samuel Barber, Solicitor sam@fclawyers.com.au or (07) 5443 6600.

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Category: Dispute Resolution, Fact Finders, General, litigation

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