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- Unreported Judgment
QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Frost v State of Queensland & Ors  QCAT 67
CHRISTOPHER DONOVAN, SAMATHNA SANDERSON, STEPHEN HAYNES & the state of queensland
13 February 2020
Senior Member Howard
HUMAN RIGHTS – JURISDICTION AND PROCEDURE – QUEENSLAND – whether application properly made – whether formal application necessary for appropriate conduct of proceeding - where potential for delay to proceeding
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) s 3, s 28, s 42, s 62
REASONS FOR DECISION
- The Human Rights Commissioner referred a complaint made by Julie Frost against identified respondents pursuant to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld).
- Ms Frost sent an email to the Tribunal registry on 10 February 2020, which, in short, requested in effect that four additional persons or entities be joined as parties to the proceeding. In addition, Ms Frost indicated in her email that she was unhappy with the timing of the forthcoming compulsory conference scheduled to take place on 13 March 2020.
- On 13 February 2020, I issued directions that Ms Frost may file an application for joinder of parties to the proceeding, together with supporting submissions and material which address the relevant statutory requirements for joinder, pursuant to section 42 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) (QCAT Act). Further, I confirmed the compulsory conference on 13 March 2020. Ms Frost has requested reasons for my decision of 13 February 2020.
- Although I am not obliged to provide reasons for procedural directions of this nature, I now do so.
- The procedure for a proceeding before the Tribunal is generally at the discretion of the Tribunal. The Tribunal may make directions at any time in a proceeding for the speedy and fair conduct of the proceeding. It may exercise the jurisdiction given to it by Parliament in the QCAT Act and other (enabling) Acts upon commencement of proceedings by filing of application or referral. The Tribunal’s functions are (although they incorporate compulsory conferences, mediations and conciliations) adjudicative. Applications are decided following a hearing. The Tribunal must observe natural justice in all proceedings.
- Although the Tribunal is mandated to act in ‘a way that is accessible, fair, just, economical, informal and quick’, the degree of informality must not compromise ‘a proper consideration of the matters before the tribunal’. The Tribunal must act fairly and according to the substantial merits of the case in all proceedings. Although it is not generally bound by practices and procedures adopted in courts, to ensure fairness and expedition, it must adopt appropriate practices and procedures.
- Although the Tribunal is empowered to make some types of interlocutory orders and directions on its own initiative, interlocutory orders sought by parties in the course of proceedings before the Tribunal, including those for orders that persons be joined as parties, are determined upon application to the Tribunal. Section 42 of the QCAT Act specifically provides that the Tribunal may make an order joining a person as a party ‘on the application of a person or on its own initiative’. The requirement for a party to make an application when he, she or it seeks various interlocutory orders and directions is contained throughout provisions in the QCAT Act.
- The requirement for a party to make an application for orders that he, she or it seeks promotes the fair, just and expeditious conduct of proceedings.
- When an application is received, the Tribunal issues directions providing for the other party or parties to respond to the application by filing submissions and other supporting material. In circumstances that a joinder application is made, when appropriate, directions may also be made for service of the relevant application and material upon the persons proposed to be joined as parties and inviting those persons to make submissions about the application.
- It would be inefficient and potentially unfair to direct parties to respond to email filed by another party. It requires an assessment to be made about whether a party is asking for orders or directions about an issue, or merely sending an email to the registry which is properly categorised as correspondence rather than an application.
- Accordingly, I made directions to the effect that Ms Frost may make an application for orders she seeks for joinder of persons to the proceeding, and if she does so, requiring that she file submissions addressing the matters relevant for consideration by the Tribunal in determining any such application.
- Whether the named persons referred to in the email should properly be joined as parties will be considered in due course by the Tribunal if an application for joinder is made.
- The proceeding was commenced on 8 July 2019. It has made slow progress over the last seven months. Ms Frost now seeks to have other parties joined when the compulsory conference scheduled for 13 March 2020 is weeks away. The compulsory conference should proceed as scheduled. The discussions at the compulsory conference should assist to clarify the issues in the proceeding. If other parties are subsequently joined to the proceeding and it is appropriate to do so, another compulsory conference may be ordered in the proceeding.
- I make directions accordingly.
QCAT Act s 122(4).
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 28(1).
 QCAT Act, s 62(1).
QCAT Act s 3(b).
QCAT Act s 28(3)(d).
QCAT Act s 28(2).
QCAT Act s 42(3). My underlining.
For example, QCAT s 47(3); s 48(4); s 49(6); s 51; s 52(6); s 58(2); s 59(3); s 61(4); s 62(6).
- Published Case Name:
Frost v State of Queensland & Ors
- Shortened Case Name:
Frost v State of Queensland
 QCAT 67
13 Feb 2020