The Commission's functions include intervening in a proceeding that involves human rights issues, if the Commission considers it appropriate, and with the leave of the court hearing the proceeding.
The Commission may apply to intervene in a proceeding where it may be able to provide expert assistance to the court or tribunal.
The Commission has intervened in proceedings about the following matters.
Effect of accepting complaint where earlier settlement agreement
The Commission applied to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to intervene in the hearing of an application to dismiss a complaint that had been referred to the QIRC.
The complaint had been accepted by the Commission notwithstanding an earlier agreement made in settlement of all claims. The Commissioner has power under section 137 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to accept a complaint in those circumstances if the Commissioner considers it is fair to do so.
In their application to dismiss the complaint the respondents argued that the Commissioner’s decision to accept the complaint was wrong, and that the earlier settlement agreement precluded the QIRC from dealing with the complaint.
The Commission made submissions about the jurisdiction of the QIRC on referred complaints and the effect of section 137 of the Act. The Commission submitted that the QIRC does not have jurisdiction to review the Commissioner’s decision under section 137 of the Act and does not have jurisdiction to consider common law principles of accord and satisfaction and estoppel in relation to the agreement.
As a consequence, the respondents withdrew their arguments about the Commissioner’s decision and the effect of the agreement.
Characteristic of an attribute (Xi case)
The Commission intervened in an appeal against a decision of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) on a complaint of race discrimination alleging failure to provide an interpreter.
The Commission made written submissions about the interpretation and application of indirect discrimination under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 , and about language as a characteristic of race.
The QCAT Appeal Tribunal found the tribunal had made two errors of law relating to language skills being a characteristic of the attribute of race. The tribunal was incorrect in identifying a comparator for direct discrimination, and in considering whether a term had been imposed for indirect discrimination. The complaint was remitted to the tribunal for reconsideration.
- ADCQ submissions to QCAT in Xi case
- QCAT Appeal Tribunal decision — Xi v WorkCover Queensland  QCATA 134 (10 May 2016)
Statutory interpretation (Attrill case)
The Commission intervened in an appeal from a decision of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). An application was made to QCAT for an order under section 144 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to protect the interests of a complainant before the complaint was referred to QCAT. In the original decision, QCAT found the complaint was invalid, and that a provision of the Public Service Act 2008 impliedly repealed section 15 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 because of inconsistency.
The QCAT Appeal Tribunal overturned the original decision, and the State then appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal.
In both appeals, the Commission provided written submissions about the relationship between the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and the Public Service Act 2008 , and about the tribunal's powers on an application for an order to protect the complainant's interests before referral of the complaint. The Commission also appeared at both hearings.
Submissions in Attrill case
- ADCQ submissions to the QCAT Appeal Tribunal in Attrill case
- ADCQ submissions to the Queensland Court of Appeal in Attrill case
Decisions in Attrill
- QCAT original decision — Attrill v State of Queensland  QCAT 361 (5 August 2011)
- QCAT Appeal Tribunal decision — Attrill v Department of Corrective Services  QCATA 31 (24 February 2012)
- Court of Appeal decision — State of Queensland v Attrill  QCA 299 (2 November 2012)
Equal remuneration (Ergon Energy case)
The Commission intervened in proceedings in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) for certification of an agreement. An issue before the QIRC was the meaning of the requirement under section 156(1)(m) of the Industrial Relations Act 1999 for the QIRC to be satisfied, before certifying a multi-employer agreement, that the agreement provides for equal remuneration for all men and women employees covered by the agreement for work of equal or comparable value.
- QIRC decision — Ergon Energy Corporation Ltd v ETU  QIRComm 73; 179 QGIG 140 (25 May 2005) (25 May 2005)