At the Hearing
Even though the Tribunal is less formal than a Court, many people feel nervous about the process. If you are going to the Tribunal, you might find it useful to sit in on a few public hearings before your matter is heard.
Some Tribunal hearings begin with the Member or Adjudicator asking you and the lessor, agent or provider whether it is possible for you to settle the matter before starting the hearing. If you both agree, you may be left to discuss and negotiate the matter.
If you settle the dispute this way, the Member or Adjudicator will record the agreement you have reached. If you don’t settle the dispute, the hearing will begin.
All parties are required to give evidence under oath or make an affirmation to tell the truth. Tribunal hearings are like other Court hearings in that perjury (lying) is a criminal offence.
You and the lessor, agent or provider should both be given an opportunity to present your case. You will usually only have a few minutes, so it’s best to plan what you want to say, and start with the most important points.
The person who lodged the application (the applicant) will be asked to speak first and confirm the details of their claim. The respondent is then able to respond to the claim and present their evidence.
The Tribunal may question each party about their evidence. Each party will also have an opportunity to question the evidence or statements made by the other party. It is up to the Member or Adjudicator to decide whether or not they need to hear evidence from witnesses before they make a decision. If you have a witness present, let the Member or Adjudicator know at the start of the hearing.
Conduct of proceedings
The Tribunal must comply with the rules of natural justice. In essence, the Tribunal should conduct a hearing that is appropriate to the circumstances and shows a lack of bias.
There should be evidence to support the Tribunal's decision. The Tribunal is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inform itself in any way it considers appropriate, with little formality and technicality and as much speed as required by the Act.
The Tribunal must, as far as practicable, ensure that all relevant material is disclosed to the Tribunal. The Tribunal must take steps to ensure that each party understands the practices and procedure of the Tribunal, the nature of assertions made and the decision made by the Tribunal.
If a party does not attend the hearing and the Tribunal is satisfied the person was given notice of the hearing, or the person could not be found, the Tribunal can hear and decide the matter in the person's absence.
Information supplied courtesy of the Tenants Union of Queensland Inc
Further information and advice for Queensland tenants can be sourced from www.tuq.org.au