Date: 7 January 2022 
Tribunal: Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal 
Tribunal Member: Member Gordon 
Human Rights Act 2019
(Qld) Sections: ss 5(2)(a), 31 
Rights Considered: Right to a fair hearing 
Other Legislation: Australian Constitution ss 75, 76, 77; Frustrated Contracts Act 1978 (NSW); Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) ss 38, 39; Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) ss 47, 52, 126(2), 164; Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth) ss 20, 48 
Keywords: Public Law Considerations: Fair Trial; Commercial

This case involved an appeal of the Tribunal’s decision that a contract between the two parties was frustrated as a result of COVID-19 government restrictions. The Tribunal recognised that it was bound by the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) and that a person has a right to have a civil proceeding decided by a court or tribunal after a fair and public hearing (section 31).

Summergrove Estate entered into a contract with the respondents, Cotterill and Downie, to provide wedding services. Owing to COVID-19 restrictions, Summergrove Estate were unable to perform the wedding services as agreed upon: at [7]-[9]. The respondents requested a refund and refused a credit note: [9]-[10]. The respondents then brought a minor civil dispute claim to the Tribunal where judgement was made in their favour. On appeal, the Tribunal had to determine whether it had jurisdiction for a claim brought by parties living in Queensland against a New South Wales company, with shareholders and directors residing in New South Wales, where the contractual obligations were to be performed in New South Wales: at [1].

In making the decision, the Tribunal referred to section 20(3) of the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth) which stated that civil proceedings may be stayed if it is determined that there is a court of another state that has appropriate jurisdiction to determine the matter: at [99]. The Tribunal highlighted that this was an important provision in light of the right to a fair hearing under section 31 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld): at [99]. It was also noted that the Tribunal was required to ‘apply and enforce those human rights that relate to court and tribunal proceedings’ on the basis of section 5(2)(a) of the Human Rights Act 2019: at [Footnote 34].

The Tribunal granted leave to appeal the decision and then dismissed the appeal.

Visit the Judgment: Spedding Estates Pty Ltd ATF The Spedding Family Trust v Cotterill & Downie [2022] QCATA 3