General Information about the Land Court Process
The Land Court is located on level 8 of the Brisbane Magistrates Court building at 363 George Street. To see the location of the Court online, click here.
Although the Court is based in Brisbane, members regularly travel to regional courthouses to conduct hearings. If the subject land of a case is located regionally, the Court will usually conduct the hearing at the nearest courthouse. However, the Court conducts directions hearings, reviews, and hearing reviews in Brisbane with regionally-located parties appearing by phone.
You can contact the Court:
- by email, at Landcourt@justice.qld.gov.au;
- by phone, on (07) 3738 7199; or
- by post, at GPO Box 5266, Brisbane QLD 4001.
If you are contacting the Court about a current case, use email or post. You must copy in the other parties to any correspondence you send. A Member of the Court cannot have contact with any party without the other parties’ knowledge and consent.
If your case is scheduled in court within the next 48 hours and you contact the Court with an urgent request, unless you have been told otherwise, assume that the request has not been granted.
Requesting a review
If you want the Court to review the directions for your case and it is not already listed for review, you must give at least two business days’ written notice to the Land Court Registry and to the other parties of:
- the proposed date for review;
- the reasons for the request; and
- the proposed directions.
When to contact the Land Court Registry, and when to contact associates
Associates assist Land Court members and the President. Associates may contact the parties during a case on behalf of their member.
You may contact associates directly if:
- it is in response to an email from the associate;
- the email is sent with the consent of all other parties and they are copied in to the email; or
- the member or President has requested that you contact them.
In all other cases, contact the Land Court Registry.
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The application or appeal will include information about what you need to do and when you need to do it. You will need to file a notice of representation click here, so the Court knows how to contact you and whether you will be representing yourself or be represented by a lawyer or an agent.
The Court will make directions, which are court orders that state what each party must do to prepare the case. For example, the Court may make directions requiring the parties to disclose documents, file evidence, or engage in alternative dispute resolution.
The Court has developed a set of Model Directions which it uses to formulate directions. The Court encourages parties to read and refer to the Model Directions. This will help you understand the kinds of directions the Court will make. The Court will usually make directions at a directions hearing or review.
Your first attendance at court will usually be a directions hearing. The Registry will send you a notice of the date and time for a directions hearing. At a directions hearing, the Court makes directions about the case. The focus is on preparing to resolve the case, not on hearing arguments about the matters in dispute. The Court will not deal with the merits of a case at a directions hearing.
Reviews are court appearances which occur after a directions hearing. At a review, the Court may:
- make further directions;
- address non-compliance with directions; or
- request an update from the parties about the progress of a case.
Similar to a directions hearing, the Court will not deal with the merits of a case at a review.
You and the other parties in a case may agree on proposed directions (“consent directions”). If the parties would like the Court to make consent directions, they may contact the Court by email, or propose the directions at a directions hearing or review.
To request consent directions by email, write to Landcourt@justice.qld.gov.au, with all other parties copied in. Include:
- the reasons for the request;
- the proposed directions; and
- confirmation that the other parties consent to the directions being made.
If you request consent directions within 48 hours of a directions hearing or review, assume that your request has not been granted unless you receive an email response to the contrary.
If you are unable to attend court in person, email the Court to request permission to appear by phone, and include your best phone contact.
The Court will likely allow you to appear by phone for directions hearings and reviews if you live regionally. However, unless the Court makes special arrangements at your request, you must appear in person at the final hearing.
If you become aware that you can’t comply with a direction, you must:
- contact the other parties and, if possible, agree on consent directions to address the issue; and
- after you have discussed this with the other parties, email LandCourt@justice.qld.gov.au with all other parties copied in, and state:
- the direction you can’t comply with;
- the reason why you can’t comply with it;
- your proposal to remedy the non-compliance, for example requesting an extension of time or new directions; and
- whether all other parties agree with your proposal.
The Land Court is committed to resolving disputes fairly, cost-effectively and efficiently. Before hearing and deciding a case, the Land Court encourages the parties to try to reach agreement using an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. An ADR process is "alternative" because it is an alternative to a court hearing and decision.
For the parties, there are a number of benefits of ADR.
The Land Court encourages parties in all cases to try to reach agreement. The Land Court also encourages parties to consider using ADR before starting a case in the Land Court.
The ADR processes available through the Land Court are:
The Land Court has an ADR panel to help parties find a suitably qualified convenor for an ADR process. To find out more about who is on the panel and how to contact them click here.
If you do reach agreement, you can end the case by:
- filing a Notice of Withdrawal or Discontinuance and, if necessary, consent orders to bring the case to an end; or
- asking for a review so the Court can make final orders.
How do I prepare for a final hearing?
In some cases, the Court will make a decision based on documents provided by the parties without having an oral hearing. An oral hearing is a hearing which the parties must attend in person or through their representative. If you would like your case to be decided without an oral hearing, you should raise this at a directions hearing. Sometimes the Court will suggest this procedure without any party requesting it.
If you want to make sure you have all the documents on the Court file, you can search the file and copy any documents you do not have. However, you may need to be a party to the proceeding to be allowed to search and copy some documents.
If you are a party, ask the relevant registry officer for access to the court file for your matter.
If you are not a party to the proceeding, complete a request to access court file (PDF, 24.4 KB) and send it to the Registrar of the Land Court (preferably via email to email@example.com), who will consider the request and notify you as soon as possible.
Parties and non-parties are required to pay copying fees.
Note: The Land Court does not hold copies of transcripts and recordings. Make requests for transcripts and recordings directly to Auscript Australasia.
The non-party disclosure process is the usual procedure for obtaining documents in the early stages of a case. To get an order for non-party disclosure, you must first make a request to the person who holds the documents. The procedure for obtaining an order for non-party disclosure is set out in the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 Chapter 7, Part 3.
A subpoena is an order by the Court requiring a person to attend the hearing and produce the documents described in the subpoena. A subpoena is usually used to produce documents at the final hearing.
A statement of evidence is a written outline of what you or another person can say about the facts to prove your case. You must file a statement of evidence for every person you want to call to give evidence at the final hearing. If you want to give evidence about any of the facts of the case, you must file your statement of evidence as well. Unless the Court makes another direction, you must file all of your statements of evidence at least 21 days before the final hearing.
A statement is your opportunity to provide the facts to the Court making a decision about your case. You must give careful thought to the evidence you present in your statements. You have to prove your case. It can be helpful if you prepare your statement while the facts about the dispute or the application are fresh in your mind.
The applicant's statement should explain what you want the Court to order and be as specific as possible (e.g. payment of money owing and why you say you are entitled to that money).
The respondent should identify clearly which items in the applicant's statements they agree with and which items they disagree with and why.
The preparation of statements is the main part of your case. Your case needs to be set out in detail in your statements.
Click the link below to download
You may be asked to provide signed statements from each of your witnesses as evidence to prove your case.
Witnesses should have personal knowledge of the issues in dispute or may have particular expertise in those issues in dispute.
Witnesses who provide statements are required to be available to attend the hearing, however may not actually be required to participate in the hearing. If required, they may be cross-examined under oath, unless the other party accepts the contents of their statement. Cross-examination involves the other party or the Member asking the witness questions about the contents of their statement and any other relevant issues.
If you are unable to get a witness to sign a statement, you may have to subpoena them to attend the hearing and give evidence.
An expert witness is a witness who has expertise in a field of specialised knowledge because of their qualifications or experience. Expert witnesses who often give evidence in the Land Court include valuers, town planners, geologists, traffic, civil or mining engineers, environmental scientists, and agronomists. Because of their qualifications, expert witnesses can express their opinion on matters within their area of expertise. That is because their role is to assist the Court. Generally, a lay (non-expert) witness cannot express an opinion. They give evidence about what they did, saw or experienced.
Although there are some things that are difficult to prove without expert evidence, it is always your choice whether to call evidence from an expert witness. If you do want to call expert evidence, you and the expert witness must understand the expert’s duty to the Court and the procedures that apply to evidence from expert witnesses.
The primary duty of an expert witness is to positively assist the Court. That duty overrides any obligation an expert witness owes to any party or to the person paying their fee or expenses. An expert witness must not accept (and a person must not give) instructions to adopt or reject a particular opinion about an issue of dispute in the case. The Land Court expects an expert witness to fully understand and comply with their duty to the Court. The President of the Court of Appeal has explained the full extent of that duty–
“This duty may require a level of candour and voluntary disclosure on the part of an expert witness that might involve prejudicing the case of the party that called the expert witness”
In summary, the procedures for expert evidence involve the following steps–
- The parties will identify the issues for the hearing;
- The parties will nominate their expert witnesses (if any);
- The Court will decide what procedure will apply, in consultation with the parties;
- The parties will brief the experts;
- If only one party nominates an expert on an issue, the expert witness will produce a statement of evidence;
- If more than one party engages an expert on one or more issues–
- those expert witnesses;
- will attend a meeting of experts and produce a joint expert report;
- may produce a limited individual statement of evidence;
- The Court may direct the case to Court Managed Expert Evidence (CMEE) so a Member or Judicial Registrar can manage and supervise the meetings and reports process.
- those expert witnesses;
This is a meeting of experts who prepare a joint expert report to the Court. In a joint expert report the experts will state:
- what they agree upon;
- what they disagree about that doesn’t affect the outcome of the case;
- what they disagree about that is about important issues; and
- the reasons for their disagreement about important issues.
This is a process the Court uses to manage the preparation of expert evidence for the hearing. CMEE is conducted by a Convenor, who must be a member or judicial registrar of the court.
The Court will direct a case to CMEE at a directions hearing or review and appoint the Convenor. A party can ask for a CMEE at any stage prior to the hearing. The Convenor will start the process by meeting with the parties or their representatives in a case management conference
The Convenor’s role is procedural. This means the Convenor will not hear the case. The Convenor oversees the Court’s management of the evidence of expert witnesses and assists the parties and the experts to prepare for the hearing.
The Convenor can assist the parties to:
- identify the issues in dispute, if they have not already been identified;
- decide which of those issues will require expert witness evidence;
- identify which experts should produce joint expert reports and on which issues;
- determine the sequence in which meetings of experts should take place;
- ensure the expert witnesses have the information they need to fulfil their function;
- prepare a consolidated brief to the expert witnesses;
- discuss arrangements for providing secretarial and administrative assistance to the expert witnesses in a meeting of experts;
- communicate with expert witnesses after they have commenced their meeting of experts;
- establish, manage and adjust the timetable for briefing experts, meetings of experts, and joint expert reports;
- as joint expert reports are filed, consider whether those reports have consequences for the management of evidence by other expert witnesses;
- agree on directions about steps to be taken during the CMEE;
- consider proposed reports to the President about the CMEE; and
- discuss whether there are issues that require further direction from the President.
The Convenor can assist the experts by:
- asking them to explain their assumptions and conclusions;
- assisting them in discussions where the expert witnesses:
- have different levels of experience;
- have difficulty in communicating with each other;
- show a tendency towards advocacy, rather than independence; or
- indicate a lack of expertise in the particular discipline;
- explaining to less experienced expert witnesses how a hearing is conducted and what the Court will expect when the expert witnesses are giving evidence;
- explaining the process of concurrent evidence; and
- conducting the meeting in a way that gives all expert witnesses an opportunity to speak and ensures that one expert witness does not dominate the discussion.
Concurrent evidence involves two or more experts in the same or closely related fields giving evidence at the same time. The use of concurrent evidence is intended to:
- enhance the Court’s appreciation and understanding of expert evidence;
- assist expert witnesses to fulfil their role as impartial advisors to the Court; and
- enhance the efficient operation of hearings.
- Guidelines for Expert Evidence in the Land Court
- Practice Direction 3 of 2018 Procedure for Court Managed Expert Evidence
- Practice Direction 2 of 2017 Guidelines for the Use of Concurrent Evidence
- CMEE Roles and Responsibilities
- What to Expect in a CMEE – Lawyers and Parties
- What to Expect in a CMEE – Experts
- Tips for Briefing Experts
- Tips for Experts Writing Joint Expert Reports
A hearing review is the last time you will attend court before the final hearing. The purpose of the hearing review is to ensure a case is ready for the final hearing. This can include:
- addressing any non-compliance with directions;
- discussing the arrangements for the final hearing and site inspection ; and
- making any other directions necessary to prepare the case for the final hearing.
The Court may direct the parties to file hearing materials before a hearing review. These materials may include:
- a list of issues;
- a list of matters not in dispute;
- an index to hearing materials;
- a proposed hearing plan, which identifies the issues relating to a site inspection and orientation session, if applicable, in accordance with Practice Direction 2 of 2018 .
The Court’s Model Directions include templates for each of these, which are available online .
A site inspection is an opportunity for the member hearing the case to inspect the subject land with the parties and their representatives before a hearing. In the ordinary course, the Court will conduct a site inspection shortly before, or at the beginning of a hearing.
Practice Direction 2 of 2018 explains the procedure for site inspections. In summary, during a site inspection, you may:
- identify particular areas, items, features, or conditions on the land;
- ask the member hearing the case to observe particular things about the land; and
- identify which parts of the land relate to particular issues in the case, and which witnesses you will call to give evidence about those issues.
Importantly, the Court does not take evidence on a site inspection, unless it makes specific directions about that. This means that things you say to the member, or things you ask them to observe, are not evidence. For information about how to prepare your evidence, please refer to sections above on this page.
Further, although you can ask the member to observe things and explain which issues they relate to, you cannot make arguments during a site inspection.
For example, you can say:
“Your Honour, please observe [a particular feature of the land]. This relates to [a particular issue in the case]. [Name of a witness] will be giving evidence about that, and I will be referring to that during my submissions in the hearing.”
In contrast, you cannot say:
“Your Honour, please observe [a particular feature of the land]. This relates to [a particular issue]. This is why you should decide the case in my favour, because ______________.”
Five days before the hearing review for your case, the parties should provide a proposed site inspection plan to the hearing member’s associate. The plan must address the matters listed in paragraph 3 of Practice Direction 2 of 2018.
Before the hearing, consider:
- what material you would like the Court to consider when deciding the case;
- which witnesses you would like to give evidence (“evidence-in-chief”);
- what questions you may have for the other side’s witnesses (“cross-examination”); and
- what arguments you would like to make to the Court (“submissions”).
When you are preparing, you might realise that you have forgotten to provide a relevant document to the Court and the other parties. You will not be able to rely on it at the final hearing unless you get permission from the Court. You can ask for permission at the final hearing. However, a Member will expect you to have provided the document to the other parties before the final hearing as soon as you realise you want to rely on it. You will also need to explain to the Court why it was not disclosed earlier. Depending on the circumstances, including whether any other party objects, the Court may allow you to rely on the document.
Setting the hearing date and location
- The Court will make directions regarding when and where a case will be heard. For example, the Court may direct that,
“The case is set down for hearing for [X days] commencing at [TIME & DATE & LOCATION].”
- The Court prefers to hear cases at the courthouse closest to the subject land unless a hearing in Brisbane is preferable. The member will discuss this with you in court before making directions.
Finding your courtroom on the date of the hearing
- On the day of the hearing, check the daily law list to see when and where your case will be heard. Alternatively, inquire about your matter in the courthouse’s registry. To access the daily law list online click here.
The Member will assist you with the Court’s procedure. If you don’t understand what is expected of you or what stage the hearing has reached, you can ask the Member to explain that for you.
The following provides some basic information so you know what to expect.
You do not need to wear formal attire, but consider what you would wear to a business meeting. You should remove hats and sunglasses when in court.
You should stand if you want to speak to the Member or the Member asks you a question. Unless you want to argue that the Member should not receive certain evidence, for example because it is not relevant, you must not interrupt another party or their representative or a witness while they are speaking.
When you are questioning witnesses, there are some rules you need to know. If you have called a witness, you can ask questions. This is called “evidence in chief” or, if you are asking questions after another party has cross-examined your witness, “re-examination”. When asking evidence in chief or in re-examination, you cannot suggest the answer you want the witness to give. That is, you cannot put words into their mouth. Lawyers call this, “leading the witness”. This rule does not apply when you are cross-examining another party’s witness. You can make suggestions to them and ask them if they agree with statements or propositions that you make.
When you are referring to documents in the Court, it is helpful if you can give the member the relevant document number from the court file. If you are using any new material, you must have copies for the other parties and the member.
You can use a laptop or tablet in court if you have notes and documents electronically that you want to refer to. However, you must put any mobile telephone on mute.
In most courtrooms, there are audio-visual facilities. If you want to display a document or play an audio or video recording during the hearing, you should raise this with the associate before the hearing so the necessary arrangements can be made. You do not need to tell the other party about this.
Everything that happens in court is recorded and will be transcribed if a party requests a copy of the transcript. To order a transcript, you must contact Auscript —the transcribing company engaged by Queensland courts. The Court cannot provide you with a copy of a transcript.
To go to the Auscript site, click here .
Address the President as “President ________” or “your Honour”.
Address Members as “Member ________” or “your Honour”.
Address the Judicial Registrar as “Judicial Registrar ________”, “sir” / “madam”.
You will sit at the bar table during the hearing. The bar table is the table in the centre of the courtroom which faces the bench.
Usually, if you are the applicant or appellant, you should sit on the left side of the bar table. If you are the respondent, sit on the right side. If the other party is represented by a lawyer, take the lead from them about where to sit.
If there is a matter being head before your case, sit in the public gallery at the back of the courtroom until your case begins.
At the start of a hearing, the member or President will enter the courtroom. Their associate will say “silence, all rise”. The member or President will bow towards you, at which point you should bow towards them. The associate will say that the Land Court is open, and you may then sit down.
The member or President will ask the parties to identify themselves. This is called “taking appearances”. When the member or President asks for appearances, the applicant / appellant will state their appearance, and then the respondent. To state your appearance, say:
“Your Honour, my name is ____________, and I am the [applicant / appellant / respondent].”
At the final hearing, the Member will ask the applicant / appellant to start their case. If that is you, you might want to make a brief statement from the bar table explaining your case. Then the Court will hear evidence from your witnesses in the following way:
- the witness will give their evidence in chief;
- the other party will cross-examine the witness; and
- you can then re-examine the witness if you want to clarify something that came up during cross-examination.
This will happen for each witness. When the applicant / appellant has called all their witnesses, they will tell the Member they close their case. Then, the Member will call on the other party to open their case, and the same process will apply.
After all parties have called all their evidence, the Member will ask the parties to make their submissions. Submissions are arguments by parties about what the Court should do, given the evidence put before the Court. You might be asked to make submissions orally at the end of the hearing or in writing by a date set by the Court, or both.
The Court will make its decision based on the parties’ submissions, the evidence before the Court, and the law. The Court will contact the parties when it is ready to deliver its decision.
After the final hearing, the Court will usually reserve its decision, which means that the hearing member will give their decision and reasons at a later date. The Court has a reserved judgments policy, to view click here.
Under the policy, the Court aims to deliver reserved judgments within 3 months of the end of the hearing or any final written submissions. The process for inquiring about a reserved judgment is set out in the policy.
The Court can order one party to pay another party’s legal costs. Generally, if it makes no order, each party will bear their own legal costs, if any. The Court often makes no order as to costs. Cost orders are designed to compensate successful parties for the expense of litigation, not to punish unsuccessful parties.
The Court will take into account all relevant factors, including:
- the nature of the case;
- whether a party has complied or not with the Court’s directions; and
- the outcome of the case.
For certain types of cases, there are special costs provisions in legislation. In preparing your case, you should check whether special provisions apply.
Costs include necessary and reasonable expenses of preparing for and the hearing of the case. They include:
- court filing fees;
- solicitor and barrister’s professional fees;
- costs of obtaining expert reports; and
- allowances paid to witnesses to attend court to give evidence.
The Court may fix the amount of costs you must pay, order you to pay costs up to or from a specific date, or order that you pay a percentage of the total costs.
If you are unhappy with the Court’s decision, you may:
- appeal the decision to the Land Appeal Court; or
- if the Court’s decision involves a recommendation to a government decision-maker (for example, about a mining lease), apply to the Supreme Court to judicially review the decision.
For more information about the Land Appeal Court and judicial review proceedings in the Supreme Court, click here.
How do I get procedural assistance?
Contact the Land Court to discuss your options. Attend an interview at the Land Court Registry in person, by phone or via video conference.