Balancing the Act: ADCQ newsletter -

Introduction to the Qld Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Clare Endicott

This article by Clare Endicott, Senior Member, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, first appeared in Balancing the Act Issue 33, Winter 2013, page 5.

On 1 December 2009 twenty-three tribunals and other bodies, including the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal Queensland, were amalgamated into the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

From that date, the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal Queensland ceased to exist and QCAT was provided with jurisdiction to hear and decide complaints about contraventions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (the Act), grant exemptions and provide opinions about the application of the Act.

QCAT is led by its President, Justice Alan Wilson of the Supreme Court and Deputy President, Judge Fleur Kingham from the District Court. There are one hundred and thirty-seven members including four senior members, ten permanent members, six adjudicators and one hundred and seventeen sessional members.

When hearing a matter under the Act, the Tribunal must beconstituted by a legally qualified member. The senior member responsible for anti-discrimination matters is Clare Endicott.

Clare has a strong background in human rights law - as a Tribunal member; and as a legal practitioner she acted for parties involved in anti-discrimination complaints since the 1990's.

Matters referred to QCAT from the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland are initially scheduled for a directions hearing. Directions are made requiring the applicant to file 'contentions' which are comprised of information identifying the issues in the complaint, details of the facts about those issues and information about how that person contends that the facts will establish a contravention of the provisions in the Act. The respondent will be directed to file 'contentions' in response.

The parties will then be directed to attend a compulsory conference conducted by a member of the Tribunal, or a mediation conference conducted by a mediator. These conferences are held to enable the parties to discuss the issues in dispute with each other and to seek to find a resolution.

If the conference results in a complete resolution of the issues in dispute, an agreement can be reached that is recorded in writing by the Tribunal. If the issues are not resolved, further directions can be made to progress the complaint in an orderly fashion to a hearing. For example, the parties may need to file statements of evidence, produce medical reports or disclose documents relevant to the issues identified.

Parties need permission of the Tribunal to be legally represented in QCAT proceedings, except for children and persons with impaired capacity who have a right to be legally represented. Permission is not generally granted unless the proceeding is likely to involve complex questions of fact or law.

QCAT will continue the excellent work previously managed by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal Queensland and benefits from a wealth of experience from its staff and from senior member Susan Booth, who is the previous Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.