Appeals in the District Court of Queensland

The District Court of Queensland can hear appeals in some matters that were dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Some important points about appeals:

  • Your right to appeal depends on what type of case your matter was.
  • You may not have an automatic right of appeal.
  • An appeal is not an opportunity for the District Court to revisit a case in its entirety.
  • You will be bound by the way that your case was run at trial, and in most cases by the evidence that was presented at trial.
  • While you may not be satisfied with the decision in your case, there are no guarantees that an appeal will succeed.
  • In some cases, an appeal may have no practical effect other than to increase the costs that you are ordered to pay.

Rules referenced in this factsheet are the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld)

Deciding whether or not to appeal

Your first step should be to read carefully through the reasons for the decision.

If the Court does not give written reasons for its decision, you will need to obtain a transcript of the Court’s reasons for decision.

You will need to read through the reasons for the decision carefully, noting how the Court came to its decision. In particular you should note:

  1. What findings of fact did the court make?
  2. What legal rules did the court apply?
  3. How did the court apply the legal rules to the facts?
  4. Were there any defects in the procedures that the court used?
  5. Did the court consider everything that it was require to consider, or omit to consider anything that it was required to consider?

Answering these questions should help you to understand how the court below made its decision, and whether or not there were any errors by the court.

Appeals under the Justices Act 1886

For certain quasi-criminal matters that are dealt with by the Magistrates Court under the Justices Act 1886 (Qld) (e.g. Peace and Good Behaviour Orders, Traffic Offences) your right to appeal is governed by section 222 of the Justices Act 1886 (Qld).

Under this section a person aggrieved by a decision of the Magistrates Court made after the filing of a complaint has one month from the date of the decision of the Magistrate.

To commence such an appeal you need a form 27 (Justices Act) which you can find here.

Civil appeals to the District Court

For other civil appeals to the District Court, the appeal must be commenced within 28 days of the decision you are appealing (section 45 Magistrates Courts Act 1921 (Qld) and rule 748).

If your Magistrates Court dispute was for an amount over $25,000 or more, you can appeal a final decision to the District Court (section 45 of the Magistrates Court Act 1921 (Qld)).

If the amount in dispute is less than $25,000, you will need leave to appeal.

To appeal to the District Court you will need to file a Form 96 Notice of appeal. If you need leave, you use the Form 97 Notice of appeal subject to leave.

The District Court procedure for appeals

Once your appeal has been lodged, the appeal is governed by Practice Direction 5/2001 of the District Court. A copy of that Practice Direction is located here.

Once an appeal has been filed, it should be served on the other party, using their address for service in the Magistrate’s Court proceedings.

You should also file a copy in the registry of the Magistrates Court that you are appealing from (rule 783).

The respondent to an appeal has two options. Either they can participate in the appeal by filing a notice of address for service, or not participate in the appeal. If the respondent elects not to participate in the appeal, then you will still have to argue your appeal to the District Court (rule 786).

If the Magistrate did not give written reasons (and this is common in the Magistrates Court) you will need to get a transcript of the reasons for the decision.

The Practice Direction requires the appellant to file an outline of argument within 28 days of commencing your appeal.

The Respondent then has 28 days to file their outline of argument.

Once the Respondent’s outline of argument is filed, the parties have fourteen days to complete a certificate of readiness (form 98). This form contains the parties’ estimate of the time that the hearing will take and it sets out the issues that are going to be discussed before the Court (rule 790).

If the parties cannot agree, you should both file Certificates of Readiness in the Registry, and the matter will be placed on the callover list for a hearing (rule 790).

If the parties do agree, the matter will be put on the list of matters that are ready for hearing and a date will be allocated (rule 790).

Dismissing appeals

You may be able to reach an agreement with the other party to resolve a District Court appeal. Rule 788 allows the parties to an appeal to seek a consent order that deals with an appeal.