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Moon v Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury[2015] QCATA 54

Moon v Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury[2015] QCATA 54

CITATION:

Moon v Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury [2015] QCATA 054

PARTIES:

Bruce Moon

(Applicant/Appellant)

v

Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury

(Respondent)

APPLICATION NUMBER:

APL116-15

MATTER TYPE:

Appeals

HEARING DATE:

22 April 2015

HEARD AT:

Brisbane 

DECISION OF:

Senior Member Stilgoe OAM

DELIVERED ON:

28 April 2015

DELIVERED AT:

Brisbane

ORDERS MADE:

  1. The application for an extension of time is refused.

CATCHWORDS:

APPEAL – EXTENSION OF TIME – where delay of over two months in filing application for appeal – where no prejudice alleged – whether good reason for delay – whether reasonable prospects on appeal – whether interests of justice favoured extension

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) s 61

Ebner v Official Trustee in Bankruptcy (2000) 205 CLR 337

Crime and Misconduct Commission v Chapman and Anor [2011] QCAT 229

Coppens v Water Wise Design Pty Ltd [2014] QCATA 309

APPEARANCES and REPRESENTATION (if any):

Applicant:

In person

Respondent

L Howard instructed by Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury

REASONS FOR DECISION

  1. [1]
    Dr Bruce Moon bought a used car on 26 August 2013. The seller charged Dr Moon $474 vehicle registration duty on the transfer.
  2. [2]
    Dr Moon is an ex-serviceman. He believed that he was entitled to concessional registration on his purchase. The Department of Transport, which deals with vehicle registration, did not agree. It referred Dr Moon’s objection to Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury (OSR). OSR also refused Dr Moon’s request for concessional registration.
  3. [3]
    Dr Moon applied for a review of OSR’s decision. On 1 December 2014, the tribunal confirmed OSR’s decision.
  4. [4]
    By letter of 21 December 2014, which the tribunal received on 24 December 2014, Dr Moon advised that he wanted to appeal the tribunal decision but he could not understand the tribunal’s Appeals information sheet. On 9 January 2015, the tribunal wrote to Dr Moon, explaining the procedure. The tribunal noted that Dr Moon’s letter of 21 December 2014 did not commence the appeal process and that, if he wanted to appeal, Dr Moon would have to file an application for an extension of time.
  5. [5]
    The tribunal accepted Dr Moon’s application for leave to appeal or appeal 18 March 2015. At the same time, he applied for an extension of time in which to file his application.
  6. [6]
    The tribunal may extend the time fixed for the start of a proceeding[1], even if the time for complying with the relevant requirement has passed[2]. The tribunal cannot extend time if to do so would cause prejudice.[3] OSR concede that it will not suffer any prejudice by the extension of time.
  7. [7]
    The tribunal must then consider whether an extension of time is appropriate. In considering that question, the following factors are relevant[4]:
    1. a)
      Whether there is a good reason for the delay.
    2. b)
      The strength of the case Dr Moon wishes to bring (assuming it is possible for some view on this to be formed on the preliminary material).
    3. c)
      The length of the delay, noting a short delay is usually easier to excuse than a lengthy one.
    4. d)
      Overall, whether it is in the interests of justice to grant the extension.
  8. [8]
    Thomas J, President of the tribunal has commented[5]:

Each party is aware of the required time limits and the fair approach is to require that limits be complied with unless there is a compelling reason (such as those listed above) to the contrary. This is fair for all parties. Compliance with time limits also will lead to disposition of matters in the most efficient and quick way. Compliance with time limits is also consistent with the public interest in finality of litigation.

  1. [9]
    Dr Moon must, therefore, show a compelling reason why the appeals tribunal should extend time for his application for leave to appeal.

Delay

  1. [10]
    Dr Moon received a copy of the decision on 8 December 2014. He had 28 days, until 5 January 2015, to file his application for appeal. Therefore, he delayed filing his application for over two months. That is a significant delay.
  2. [11]
    The delay is particularly significant given that, by its letter of 9 January 2015, the tribunal alerted Dr Moon to the need for an extension of time.
  3. [12]
    Dr Moon’s explanation for the delay between 8 December 2014 and 9 January 2015 is that he did not understand the Appeals information sheet. It is true that the Appeals information sheet of the time lacked clarity; that is always a risk when a body tries to summarise many pages of information into one. The tribunal has since revised its information sheet. Pleasingly, Dr Moon acknowledges that the new version is more helpful.
  4. [13]
    But Dr Moon is, obviously, an intelligent person. Even if he did not understand the Appeals information sheet, he was not entitled to throw up his hands and say “until I am able to comprehend this conundrum, I am unable to submit the necessary material to support this appeal” and then just wait for the tribunal to assist him. Many litigants with less education than Dr Moon are able to navigate the intricacies of the tribunal’s appeal jurisdiction. The tribunal’s website contains information about the appeal process[6] and there is no reason why Dr Moon could not have engaged assistance. I do not accept that the reasons for the delay between 8 December 2014 and 9 January 2015 are valid.
  5. [14]
    I asked Dr Moon the reasons for his delay between 9 January 2015 and 18 March 2015. He stated that he did not receive the tribunal’s letter until 14 February 2015. He cites two possible reasons for that delay: the letter was not delivered until that date; or he had been away.
  6. [15]
    The tribunal’s letter was addressed to Dr Moon’s PO Box. I accept that a letter to a residential address might go astray but I find it difficult to accept that a letter to a PO Box would not be delivered within the normal course of the post. The more likely explanation is that Dr Moon was, as he conceded, away and he did not clear his PO Box. That might be a reason for the delay but it is not a good reason. As I have already noted, Dr Moon was not entitled to sit back and wait for the tribunal’s guidance.
  7. [16]
    Even if I accept that Dr Moon did not receive the tribunal’s letter until 14 February 2015, he still did not act with any sense of urgency. The tribunal first received his application on 25 February 2015. It was incomplete, so it was returned to him. The tribunal did not receive a proper application until 18 March 2015.
  8. [17]
    I am not satisfied that Dr Moon had a good reason for the delay.

Prospects on appeal

  1. [18]
    Dr Moon correctly stated that he was not in a position to argue the merits of his appeal at the stay hearing. I will, however, make some comments about his prospects based on the material filed.
  2. [19]
    In the tribunal below, OSR explained the entitlement to grant an exemption for registration. Briefly, the explanation was as follows:
    1. a)
      Section 391(1)(j) of the Duties Act states that duty is not payable by an ex-serviceperson who, under the Vehicle Registration Act, is entitled to concessional registration fees for the vehicle. Dr Moon is an ex-serviceperson. Therefore, he may be entitled to concessional registration.
    2. b)
      “Vehicle Registration Act” means the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld)[7] (TORUM).
    3. c)
      TORUM has a regulations power[8].
    4. d)
      Section 123(1) of Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2010 allows a concessional registration fee for the registered operator of a vehicle mentioned in schedule 1, part 2.
    5. e)
      Schedule 1, part 2, item 8 refers to one motor vehicle.
    6. f)
      Dr Moon already had concessional registration for one vehicle; he was not entitled to concessional registration on a second vehicle.
  3. [20]
    The tribunal accepted OSR’s submissions and the reasons for decision reflect this.[9] Dr Moon’s grounds of appeal are that the tribunal did not make the correct and preferable decision[10] and did not observe the rules of natural justice[11]. Dr Moon says that the tribunal did not make the correct and preferable decision because it adopted OSR’s reasoning and did not address any of Dr Moon’s submissions. Dr Moon submits that the tribunal did not observe the rules of natural justice because, by adopting OSR’s submissions, it exhibited bias.
  4. [21]
    Bias is a very serious allegation. The test is[12]:

… if a fair-minded lay bystander might reasonably apprehend that the decision-maker might not bring an impartial mind to the determination of the issues that he or she must decide.

  1. [22]
    A party cannot establish bias simply by pointing out that the tribunal preferred one party’s submissions over another. On the material currently to hand, there seems little evidence of bias.
  2. [23]
    I have considered Dr Moon’s substantive submissions. He takes issue with the fact that provisions in TORUM can dictate the way in which the Duties Act is interpreted. He takes issue with the fact that TORUM makes no reference to registration, concessions or ex-servicepersons. The legislative framework set out above, and articulated by the tribunal below, demonstrates that there is no substance to this submission.

Conclusion

  1. [24]
    Dr Moon has not provided a good reason for his delay. His prospects on appeal seem limited. The disputed duty, $474, was payable in August 2013, almost eighteen months ago. Finality in this litigation is desirable. The application for an extension of time in which to file an application for appeal is refused.

Footnotes

[1]  QCAT Act s 61(1)(a).

[2]  Ibid s 61(2).

[3]  Ibid s 61(3).

[4] Crime and Misconduct Commission v Chapman and Anor [2011] QCAT 229.

[5] Coppens v Water Wise Design Pty Ltd [2014] QCATA 309.

[6]  http://www.qcat.qld.gov.au/qcat-decisions/appealing-a-qcat-decision.

[7] Duties Act Schedule 6.

[8]  Section 171.

[9] Moon v Commissioner of State Revenue [2014] QCAT 626.

[10]  As required by s 20(1) of the QCAT Act.

[11]  As required by s 28(3) of the QCAT Act.

[12] Ebner v Official Trustee in Bankruptcy (2000) 205 CLR 337.

Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Bruce Moon v Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Moon v Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury

  • MNC:

    [2015] QCATA 54

  • Court:

    QCATA

  • Judge(s):

    Senior Member Stilgoe

  • Date:

    28 Apr 2015

Appeal Status

Please note, appeal data is presently unavailable for this judgment. This judgment may have been the subject of an appeal.

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