Payment disputes

There are a number of options you can try to get paid money that you believe is owed to you.  Each option has its pros and cons, as shown in the below table.  

OPTION PROS CONS
Adjudication
  • decision on dispute
  • enforceable
  • quick result
  • generally cheaper and faster than going to court
  • fees
  • strict time requirements and limitations
  • paperwork preparation - legal advice helps but may not always be necessary
Monies Owed
  • free
  • no time limitations
  • investigation with possible licence action against licensee
  • no decision on dispute
  • we can't make the other party pay
QCAT
  • decision on dispute
  • fees
  • time requirements and limitations
  • only disputes up to $25,000
Courts
  • decision on dispute
  • fees
  • time requirements and limitations
  • need legal advice
Subcontractors Charges Act
  • freezes money owed by principal
  • fees
  • time requirements and limitations
  • temporary until court decision on dispute
  • need legal advice 

What can the QBCC do to help you get paid?

Adjudication under the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004

Are you owed money by a head contractor or builder:

  • for construction work you have carried out, or 
  • for goods and services you have provided for construction work?

Adjudication under the BCIPA is a quick and cost effective way to have a decision made about a payment dispute under a construction contract that is enforceable in the courts.

Before an application for adjudication may be made, certain notices must be served to the other party within strict timeframes.

There are also fees associated with adjudication: a fee paid on application and a fee payable to the adjudicator after they reach their decision.

For more information about the BCIPA process, visit our Get help getting paid (BCIPA) section of this website.

Monies Owed

Are you owed money by a QBCC licensee? If so, QBCC may be able to assist with a monies owed complaint and investigation.

A licensee’s financial circumstances must at all times satisfy the Minimum Financial Requirements (MFR). The MFR requires a licensee to pay all undisputed debts as and when the debts fall due.

A monies owed complaint often results in payment of an undisputed debt by a licensee. A complaint requires details of the debt and supporting information to substantiate the debt is owed. The QBCC can then commence an investigation.

Failure by a licensee to pay an undisputed debt will result in licence suspension or cancellation.

You can tell us about a monies owed complaint by downloading a printable Monies Owed Complaint form (PDF), or completing an online Monies Owed Complaint form.

Information for employees of licensees who have gone into liquidation

Employees may be able to apply for assistance immediately from Centrelink and may be eligible for financial help to cover their entitlements through the Commonwealth Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

Affected employees can contact:

Under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, employees may be able to claim for up to 13 weeks unpaid wages, plus annual and long-service leave, plus payment in lieu of notice (up to five weeks), plus redundancy pay (up to four weeks per full year of service).

Applicants cannot claim under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee if they were a contractor or a director of the company or a relative of the company within 12 months before the liquidation.

Other ways of getting paid

QCAT

If you are owed an amount up to and including $25,000, you may be able to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve your dispute.

To complete the application through QCAT you will need to provide the full name and correct address of the person who you say owes you money, details of the debt and supporting documents, including a copy of any contract/agreement for the work you say you are owed money for.

For further information, go to http://www.qcat.qld.gov.au/matter-types/debt-disputes/application-process-debt-disputes.

Magistrates Court

If you are owed an amount up to $150,000, you can apply to the Magistrates Court to resolve your dispute. It is important to note that resolving your dispute in the courts may take longer and cost more than using QCAT or adjudication. It is also recommended that you seek legal advice.

For further information, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/magistrates-court/money-disputes-up-to-150000.

District Court

If you are owed an amount over $150,000 and up to $750,000, you can apply to the District Court to resolve your dispute. It is important to note that resolving your dispute in the courts may take longer and cost more than using adjudication. It is also recommended that you seek legal advice.

For further information, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/district-court/money-disputes-up-to-$750,000

Supreme Court

If you are owed an amount over $750,000, you can apply to the Supreme Court to resolve your dispute. It is important to note that resolving your dispute in the courts may take longer and cost more than using adjudication. It is also recommended that you seek legal advice.

For further information, go to http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/supreme-court/money-disputes-more-than-750,000.

Subcontractors Charges Act

If you are owed money, you can use the Subcontractors Charges Act to 'freeze' the money that is owed until a resolution is reached in court.

We recommend you get legal advice before using this option.

Please note you can't take this action if you are already going through adjudication or intend on using adjudication.