One of the problems with our modern legal and business system is that it is exploited by those who know how to exploit it. Yet, for others who genuinely need the protection, that these systems were designed to provide, the red tap and excessive cost, makes help impossible to obtain.
We see this commonly in disputes relating to unpaid debts and money owed due to breach of contract. A person who owes money, may well know that it is often not worthwhile for a creditor to pursue payment. This is because the legal cost of chasing payment is too great. A debtor who believes that a creditor will not chase payment is unfortunately less likely to pay.
I have included some links at the end of this article that may assist anyone who is owed money.
Fortunately since December 2009 QCAT (Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal) has made debt recovery accessible to everyone. It is not necessary to spend a small fortune trying to recover money owed to you. Lawyers are often not allowed to appear in QCAT. Therefore, there may be no legal fees. It is not however all beer and skittles. If you don’t have a lawyer working for you, then you will have to do the work that the lawyer would have done. This means that if you want to chase payment owing, you will have to be committed enough to devote the time necessary to prepare properly. If you do this you will begin to gain an understanding of why legal costs are so high? Preparation for court, even QCAT, is time consuming, sometimes frustrating and, you’ll need to be thorough. It can be a tedious process.
You can make a claim for up to $25,000 in QCAT. It always surprises me how often people are not prepared to make a claim only because of the work involved. My advice is this- if you are genuinely owed a sum of money and you have examined your conscience and motivation for wanting payment then stand up for yourself. It will be hard work but, if you win it may be a very rewarding experience, not just in terms of money.
I regularly check in with clients who have been through the process. I find that most often, a client with a genuine claim is able to succeed in QCAT provided that they prepare properly. Clients who are not prepared to put in the time to prepare, do not do as well.
My feedback is that the clients learned a lot from the process, they challenged themselves and although most would not rush back, to do it again if they did not need to, they are pleased to have had a go and to have learned from the experience.
Filing fees are not much more than $100. If you have the time available stand up for yourself.
We recommend that before proceeding to QCAT you first obtain legal advice in relation to the following matters:
1. what are the primary issues?
2. what evidence should be obtained?
It is also a good idea if you can afford it, to have the lawyer prepare the claim so that your case is clearly set out.
The writer of this article has attended at QCAT on his own behalf a number of times. Although it can be daunting for someone who has never before been to court, the process is as friendly and informal, as courts can be.
We are always happy to help a client prepare for appearances at QCAT. We can help you understand what needs to be done in order to prepare and what to expect when you get there.
Best of luck.
Riba Business Lawyers