Legal representation

Novel and complex issues

The applicant in a complaint alleging sexual harassment, vilification, and victimisation, applied to QCAT for permission to be legally represented in the proceeding. Under the QCAT Act, parties are expected to represent themselves, unless QCAT is satisfied it is in the interests of justice for a party to have legal representation.

In this case, the respondent to the complaint argued that the facts of the case were simple, and that lawyers would make the case complex. The tribunal disagreed, and considered the case involved novel and complex issues of law. The tribunal was satisfied that it would benefit by the presence of lawyers skilled in anti-discrimination law, and that it is in the interest of justice that parties are able to present their cases properly with full appreciation of the legal implications of the issues they raise.

Beck v Rowan [2017] QCAT 51 (24 January 2017)

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Health of parties

This is a complaint against a bowls club and three individuals, one of whom is the chair of the club. The complainant applied for leave to be represented by a non-lawyer, a woman who had claimed similar treatment by the respondents. The respondents applied for leave to be legally represented by the respondent club’s honorary solicitor, who had represented them in the Commission.

The general rule at QCAT is that all parties must represent themselves, unless it is in the interests of justice to provide otherwise. A non-lawyer may only represent a party if the tribunal is satisfied the person is an appropriate person to represent the party.

The complainant and the three individual respondents all experience health issues, some seriously affecting their ability to represent themselves in the proceeding. The tribunal considered it was in the interests of justice to grant leave for all parties to be legally represented.

The tribunal was not satisfied that the complainant’s proposed representative was an appropriate person to act as the complainant’s representative. The person is not an Australian legal practitioner, she has her own grievances with the club, she knows all the people involved in the proceeding, and she has provided a witness statement and may called for cross-examination. The tribunal said that given her own similar personal issues with the club and people associated with it, it would be difficult for that person to act as an effective representative and advocate for the complainant.

Ford v Mount Gravatt Bowls Club Inc & Ors [2017] QCAT 466

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Availability of decisions

QCAT decisions are available from:

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