Resolving a retail shop leasing dispute in Queensland

Process Of Resolution

A retail shop lease dispute occurs when a person occupying a retail shop ('tenant') disagrees with the landlord on issues regarding the lease. The disagreements between the landlord and a tenant that often result in a dispute includes increased rent, repairs, maintenance costs, fixtures and insurance over the premises. The Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 (Qld) ('RSLA') provides a legal framework for regulating these issues in Queensland and it also gives parties the opportunity to resolve their disputes using the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ('QCAT').

The process of resolving a retail shop lease dispute under the RSLA involves a two-step process: (1) mediation with the Small Business Commissioner, and (2) a hearing by QCAT if the dispute is not resolved at mediation. During mediation, the mediator assists both parties to discuss their differences and find a final solution that is mutually acceptable to them. It is important to note that the mediator does not decide who is right or wrong, but only assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation is not compulsory and neither party is compelled to attend the mediation. However, there are many benefits that come with mediation which are listed below:

  • Saves time and money by avoiding a QCAT hearing
  • Less formal than a hearing as no witnesses or experts are involved
  • Provides you with more options to resolve the dispute
  • Conversation in a mediation is confidential, so cannot be used at a hearing unless agreed upon
  • Can result in a win/win outcome for both parties

If the two parties cannot come to an agreement during mediation, or if one of the parties disregard the mediation, the matter is taken to a hearing before QCAT. The aim of the hearing is to allow QCAT to make a final decision about the dispute between the parties. At this stage, parties have to present their arguments, supported by oral testimony and documentary evidence, such as invoices and receipts, that can assist QCAT to make a decision in their favour.

Solomons Legal's Precedent

Recently, our firm successfully won a retail shop lease dispute on behalf of our client. Briefly put, our client was a tenant of a strip mall that operated a hairdresser. Due to the heavy storms and flooding in the first quarter of the year, our client's shop was severely damaged, the roof collapsed, and stock was destroyed. Our client had made multiple requests to repair or compensate for the damages to the landlord which were all dismissed.

With the lack of support from the landlord, our client applied for resolution of a lease dispute through QCAT. We essentially demanded three forms of compensation: (1) rent abatement for the period the premises were damaged, (2) damages for loss of inventory, and (3) loss of profit. In summary, our client was awarded a reasonable and satisfactory sum of money in mediation that covered all aspects of the demand.

This is a clear example that showcases the advantages of a mediation in resolving a retail shop lease dispute matter. Our client was able to save time and costs by settling at mediation. Although our client could have potentially won a larger sum of money at the hearing, the chances of losing would have also increased equally.


This article does not create a Client/Attorney relationship neither is it a legal advice. The information contained in this article is for information purposes only. Readers are advised to seek from qualified Legal Practitioners, legal counselling to any questions or concerns arising from their specific factual situation. You can reach Solomons Legal at or +61 7 3117 9433 and our team will be happy to assist and advise you with your house purchase process.

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