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- Unreported Judgment
QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Geragotelis v Reid  QCATA 63
ORIGINATING APPLICATION NO/S:
27 April 2020
On the papers
APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – APPEAL – GENERAL PRINCIPLES – RIGHT OF APPEAL – WHEN APPEAL LIES – ERROR OF LAW – leave to appeal – where Tribunal failed to provide adequate reasons for decision – where appellant challenged evidence and produced own at first instance – where parties must be satisfied that Tribunal has given them answer to their issues – where Tribunal at first instance did not explain basis for findings or why it accepted evidence or preferred other evidence – where Tribunal at first instance did not set out legal basis for decision or law being applied – where failure to give adequate reasons amounted to denial of procedural fairness – where error of law for which leave should be granted to correct substantial injustice
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 28, s 121, s 143
Australian Broadcasting Tribunal v Bond (1990) 170 CLR 321
Beale v Government Insurance Office of NSW (1997) 48 NSWLR 430
Body Corporate for Rosegum Villas v Queensland Building and Construction Commission  QCATA 125
Cachia v Grech  NSWCA 232
Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian v FGC  QCATA 291
Glenwood Properties Pty Ltd v Delmoss Pty Ltd  2 Qd R 388
McIver Bulk Liquid Haulage Pty Ltd v Fruehauf Australia Pty Ltd  2 Qd R 577
Mistero Pty Ltd v Cann  QCATA 56
Phu v NSW Department of Education and Training  NSWADTAP 76
QUYD Pty Ltd v Marvass Pty Ltd  1 Qd R 41
This matter was heard and determined on the papers pursuant to s 32 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld).
REASONS FOR DECISION
What is this appeal about?
- Nickolas Geragotelis sold Paul Reid a motor scooter for $850. Mr Reid claimed the scooter did not work. Mr Geragotelis denied this. Two Justices of the Peace allowed Mr Reid’s claim. Mr Geragotelis appealed.
- After hearing from both sides, the learned Justices gave their decision. The hearing transcript reveals the following exchange:
TRIBUNAL JP: All right. Welcome back, Mr Geragotelis. Please take your seat. This is the matter number 47 of ’19. We have Paul Reid as the applicant; Nick Geragotelis as the respondent. Mr Reid bought a motorcycle/scooter from Mr Geragotelis. He tells us that it failed/stopped working, and he took it to a mechanic recommended by Mr Geragotelis and, apparently, he’s been told that parts can’t be provided. Our view is that Mr Geragotelis, you sold him a scooter that didn’t work. So we - - -
MR GERAGOTELIS: Well, it did work. It was in A1 condition, sorry, sir.
TRIBUNAL JP: Well, that’s – that’s not our finding today.
MR GERAGOTELIS: Well - - -
TRIBUNAL JP: Our finding today is that Mr Reid will return the scooter to you. You will go to the mechanics, get the scooter from them and give the scooter and the helmet to Mr Geragotelis, and Mr Geragotelis will refund you $850.
MR GERAGOTELIS: Well, I won’t sir.
TRIBUNAL JP: As far as – wait for it, sir. As far as the interests, filing fee and bailiff: we’re going to waive those because we feel that you guys could have sorted this out. You could have sorted this out. If you’d taken the scooter back to him on Christmas Eve, he would have given you the money. So that’s what – that the order we’re making today. So you’ve got – when you take him the scooter, he’s got seven days to pay you.
MR REID: Yep.
TRIBUNAL JP: Okay. That’s it. That’s the order that’s coming out.
- Unfortunately, the Tribunal did not explain why it found that Mr Geragotelis had to refund the $850 to Mr Reid. Mr Reid and Mr Geragotelis gave differing versions of events. Mr Reid said that Mr Geragotelis sold the scooter to him in faulty condition. Conversely, Mr Geragotelis said he sold it to Mr Reid ‘in A1 condition’. It is implicit that the Tribunal at first instance preferred Mr Reid’s version. However, it did not explain why it preferred Mr Reid’s evidence over Mr Geragotelis’s evidence.
- While the Tribunal’s finding may have been open, Ms Geragotelis is entitled to know why his evidence was not accepted. The reasons do not show this. Whatever the Tribunal’s findings of fact, the parties must be satisfied that the Tribunal has given them an answer to their issues. Mr Geragotelis was not given procedural fairness because he does not know why the Tribunal at first instance found against him.
- Similarly, the reasons do not show any legal basis for the orders made or the law being applied. Was there a contract? What were the terms of the contract? Were they express or implied? Was there a breach? What loss flowed from the breach? Did Mr Reid mitigate the loss? Did the Australian Consumer Law or other legislation apply?
- While it is understandable that the learned Justices sought to deliver reasons with economy and brevity, the emphasis on expedition and informality does not allow the Tribunal to pursue speedy resolution at all costs. In all proceedings, the Tribunal must still act fairly and according to the substantial merits of the case and observe the rules of natural justice.
- This means that the Tribunal must give proper reasons for its decision:
Those reasons need not be elaborate, but they must contain three essential elements: appropriate and sufficient reference to the relevant evidence; the material findings of fact that were made (and the reasons for making those findings); and the applicable law and the reasons for applying it in the way expressed in the decision. It has also been said, in Queensland, that the crucial element is for the Tribunal to give reasons which disclose what has been taken into account in a way that means any error is revealed.
- Because this is an appeal from a minor civil dispute, leave is required. In determining whether to grant leave, the Tribunal will consider established principles including:
- (a)whether there is a reasonably arguable case of error in the primary decision;
- (b)whether there is a reasonable prospect that the appellant will obtain substantive relief;
- (c)whether leave is needed to correct a substantial injustice caused by some error; and
- (d)whether there is a question of general importance upon which further argument, and a decision of the Appeal Tribunal, would be to the public advantage.
- The Tribunal’s reasons were inadequate. This is an error of law for which leave should be granted to correct a substantial injustice.
- Leave to appeal is granted and the appeal allowed. The matter should be remitted for rehearing before a differently constituted Tribunal, who will be in the best position to assess credibility and make appropriate findings of fact upon hearing all the evidence from the parties.
 Transcript, page 1-12, lines 7-36.
 Body Corporate for Rosegum Villas v Queensland Building and Construction Commission  QCATA 125, .
 Australian Broadcasting Tribunal v Bond (1990) 170 CLR 321.
 Mistero Pty Ltd v Cann  QCATA 56,  (Senior Member Stilgoe OAM).
 Hayward & Anor v LJ Hooker Longreach  QCATA 221,  (Wilson J).
 Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 28(2).
 Ibid, s 28(3)(a).
 Ibid, s 121.
 Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian v FGC  QCATA 291,  (Wilson J and Member Ford), citing Phu v NSW Department of Education and Training  NSWADTAP 76 and Beale v Government Insurance Office of NSW (1997) 48 NSWLR 430.
 Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 143(3).
 QUYD Pty Ltd v Marvass Pty Ltd  1 Qd R 41.
 Cachia v Grech  NSWCA 232, 2.
 QUYD Pty Ltd v Marvass Pty Ltd  1 Qd R 41.
 Glenwood Properties Pty Ltd v Delmoss Pty Ltd  2 Qd R 388, 389; McIver Bulk Liquid Haulage Pty Ltd v Fruehauf Australia Pty Ltd  2 Qd R 577, 577, 580.
- Published Case Name:
Nickolas Geragotelis v Paul Reid
- Shortened Case Name:
Geragotelis v Reid
 QCATA 63
27 Apr 2020