Date: 20 June 2022
Tribunal: Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
Tribunal Member: Member Gordon
Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) Sections: ss 31, 13(1)
Rights Considered: Right to fair hearing.
Other Legislation: Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) ss 14, 35C; Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) ss 3, 4, 100, 102
Keywords: Civil Procedure

This case concerned an application for a costs order. The Court briefly discussed human rights but did not apply these principles to the matter at hand.

This case concerned an application for a costs order.

The Court considered that the importance of ready and economical access to justice has become more obvious with the passing of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), particularly the right to a fair hearing (section 31): at [107]. The Court noted that this right goes beyond simply providing an entitlement to a procedurally fair hearing; it is a right of access to the courts which must provide a person with ‘a clear, practical opportunity to challenge an act that is an interference with his rights’: at [108]. This right of access extends to circumstances where court procedures are so complex that a solicitor would be required, but the person is unable to afford one: at [108].

As the right to access to justice is not absolute, the question (as it usually is under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)) is whether such an impediment is a reasonable limit that is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom: at [109]. The Court considered that it might be possible that a financial burden imposed on a party when accessing a court or tribunal may be a contravention of such principles and may not be demonstrably justified: at [110]. In doing so, the Court noted (but did not apply or reject) a United Kingdom decision (R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor [2017] UKSC 51) where a trade union had successfully challenged application and hearing fees: at [110].

The Court did not directly apply human rights principles in this case.

Visit the judgment: Brisbane Marine Pilots Pty Ltd (in liquidation) v General Manager of Maritime Safety Queensland, Department of Transport and Main Roads and Ors (costs) [2022] QCAT 225