QCAT awards costs over blue card ban based on unfounded DV claims

The Queensland Government has been ordered to pay the legal costs of a man fighting a blue card ban imposed because of unfounded allegations of domestic violence.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week ordered that the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) pay $5000 of the estimated $26,700 in legal costs incurred by a man – known only as DBC – for a review of a decision to not issue him with a ‘positive notice’ for a blue card.

QCAT member Michael Howe, in a four-page decision published yesterday, said DBC was refused a blue card and was “put to considerable unnecessary expense” when DJAG demanded a hearing be held to dispute his request for a review of its decision.

The tribunal was told that, six days before the proposed hearing of evidence, DJAG informed DBC the hearing would no longer be necessary.

DBC’s lawyers argued that their client should be awarded $5000 costs, saying: “(DBC had) in fact incurred legal expenses of $26,702.50 responding to the Department’s erroneous refusal of a blue card.”

The tribunal was told DJAG refused DBC the blue card based on accusations of domestic violence levelled by a former partner in 2015.

“The case against (DBC) turned on the complaints of (his) ex-wife,” Mr Howe said. “They concerned complaints made against (DBC) by his second wife after their very short marriage of some nine months failed.

“The accusations were of domestic violence by him against her. All the complaints were made after (the couple’s) separation.”

Mr Howe noted that evidence obtained by DJAG from interstate had shown none of the complaints levelled against DBC were able to be substantiated, despite investigation by authorities.

“I indicated at (this) hearing that two things stood out in the matter,” he said. “(They were that) the evidence of good character offered in support of (DBC) by his first wife of many years and the comments of the Magistrate made when dismissing the charges against the (DBC) in Western Australia as well as the award of costs against the police there.

“Apart from the complaints of the ex-wife there was no evidence against (DBC) suggesting his was an exceptional case not justifying a positive notice.”

Mr Howe, in awarding DBC costs, said: “Ordinarily parties in the tribunal bear their own costs. The tribunal may make an order requiring a party to pay costs however, where the tribunal considers the interests of justice require it.’’

He ordered that DJAG pay DBC fixed costs of $5000.

Read the full decision.

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