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Information Sheets

Guide for self-represented parties in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC)

The following information is intended to give some guidance about the procedural aspects of commission hearings to parties who have either filed an application with the Commission or who are respondent to an application (the other party named in the application) and who do not wish to be represented by another party such as an industrial organisation, agent, advocate, or lawyer.

When should I file an Application?

Prior to filing an application with the commission, the following needs to be considered if any application relative to this matter has already been made in another jurisdiction i.e.

Simultaneous action can not be taken through the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.  However, if an application is filed with the commission in the first instance, an application may be filed with the Anti Discrimination Commission at a later stage.

Where possible, every effort should be made to settle the matter with the other party prior to filing an application with the commission. In some instances, negotiations are just not an option and, so, if you choose not to have private discussions with the other party, or if such discussions have been unsuccessful, then the application should be filed with the Industrial Registry and will then be dealt with by the commission.

It should be noted that in some cases there is a time limit for filing the application.  The time limit can be found in legislation under which you are filing the application.

Examples are:

If you have already filed an application and you manage to settle the matter, you should let the commission know in writing immediately.  A Notice of discontinuance (Form 26) for unfair dismissals or (Form 27) for all other matters) should also be filed in the registry.

Representation

There are a number of factors which may influence one or other of the parties in deciding whether to represent themselves or to seek the assistance of an industrial organisation, agent, advocate or lawyer.  For some the cost factor may be prohibitive whilst others may feel quite comfortable conducting their own case.

Even if you do decide to represent yourself there is still the option of obtaining advice from another source such as an advocate or lawyer when preparing your case and this may be more cost effective than having them appear on your behalf.  You may also consider bringing a friend, relative or other individual with you as support. If however, you do not feel confident of running your own case, you may choose to be represented by one of the following;

In addition to the above, there are a number of support agencies who may be able to assist you depending on your circumstances. These include:

You may wish to seek independent legal advice about your appeal. LawRight is a non-profit community legal centre which may be able to offer free and independent legal advice and assistance for people who are appealing a decision of the Workers’ Compensation Regulator in the QIRC. You can apply for assistance from LawRight using the application form available at http://www.lawright.org.au/. You can contact LawRight by:

Email: SelfReps.Caseworker@lawright.org.au
Telephone: 07 3239 6559
Fax: 07 3846 6311
Post: LawRight, PO Box 3631, South Brisbane BC, Qld 4101

You can find the contact details of private legal practitioners by visiting the website www.qls.com.au.  You can find details of your closest community legal centre by visiting the website http://communitylegalqld.org.au/.

What if I have language problems?

If English is not your first language, or you have difficulties such as visual or hearing impairment, you may know a person or community organisation who can assist you.  You can generally bring along such a person to the commission proceedings to assist you.

If you are having difficulty understanding the information in this document and you do not have someone you can approach for assistance, please contact the Industrial Registry. You may also phone the Translating and Interpreter Service (TIS). This is a national service available through the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is 131 450 and the cost is that of a local call.

Proceedings in the Commission

If you are appearing in the commission it is likely the proceedings will be either a conciliation conference or a hearing.  A conference is generally informal and private while a hearing is formal and can be attended by members of the public.


Conference

A conciliation conference is a discussion, with the assistance of a commission member, to try to resolve the issues between the parties. 

Only when a matter is unable to be resolved through discussions at the conference, will it proceed to a formal hearing.

Hearing

A hearing in the Commission is a formal process where parties put forward arguments and other information (known as submissions) and witness evidence and documents can be presented.  A typed record of what was said in the hearing (known as transcript) is produced for later reference.

A transcript may be issued by the Industrial Registry in electronic form, free of charge, to a party to the proceeding, or that party's representative.  The request must be made on a transcript order form.

If you are representing yourself you will sit at a table (known as the bar table) facing one or more members of the commission who will sit at a raised platform (known as the bench).  The commission member's associate sits at the table immediately in front of the bench and faces the parties.

If you have any questions about procedures please ask the associate before proceedings start.  As is the case with all registry staff, please understand that associates do not give legal advice.  If you don't understand something during proceedings ask the commission member hearing the proceedings.

The process known as arbitration involves a hearing, at the end of which the commission member makes a decision that is binding on both the applicant and the respondent (subject to any appeal that may be available).

Note: Please remember that a case may be settled at any time during the proceedings by agreement of the parties involved.

Preparing for a hearing

Once it has been decided that the matter will be dealt with by way of a hearing, then you will need to ensure that any witnesses you intend to call are present at the hearing.  You will also need to bring any documents which you intend presenting in support of your case.

As the applicant, you will be responsible for any "witness expenses" for witnesses you call and these are to be paid in advance unless otherwise agreed.

Depending upon the location, the matter may be heard either in a court (hearing) room or a conference room.  You should arrive a few minutes before the start time.  The member's associate will show you where to sit and will explain the procedures to you.  The associate will answer any questions if there is anything you are not sure about.

What happens in the hearing/conference?

Appeals

If you decide to lodge an appeal against the decision of the commissioner then the appeal must be lodged within 21 days from the date the decision was given.

See sections 556, 557, 560, 562, 564 to 569 of the Industrial Relations Act 2016, rules 139 and 140 of the Industrial Relations (Tribunals) Rules 2011 and sections 561 to 564 of the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.

Witness Evidence 

You may call witnesses to give evidence in commission proceedings.  Witnesses may voluntarily agree to give evidence or you can require them to appear. You may also provide a summary of witness evidence.

ADDITIONAL TIPS ON COMMISSION PROCEDURE

Commission etiquette