Did you know that if you’ve had a contract with someone that’s been breached or is unfair or you’ve been mislead and deceived, there is a quick and easy way for you to get a resolution and get awarded money without having to engage a lawyer and without having to go to court? Dominique Grubisa, founder and CEO of DG Institute explains how you can access a body to protect your consumer rights, have your matter heard, have your day in court, and your voice heard without ever having to spend a cent!
I want to share with you how you can access a tribunal for maximum power without the need of having to have a lawyer engaged to protect your rights without any a downside. It’s called the civil and administrative tribunal – it’ll be different in every state; in New South Wales, it’s the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in Queensland, it’s the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You’ll hear it called NCAT in New South Wales. QCAT, VCAT in Victoria and so on.
The ACCC has jurisdiction to be a watchdog in Australia – it’s a government body that looks after the Australian consumer law or the ACL. It’s an active Parliament and it’s there to protect consumers, things that fall under this body of law: the Fair Trading Act, legislation to protect people where things go wrong, faulty or defective products or contracts that have been misleading and deceptive.
As a consumer, you have a whole lot of rights that the law is there to uphold for you, but what was realized is that the little guy has to spend a lot of money to take the big guy to court when something goes wrong. Often, when you don’t have the deep pockets, justice is never served because you can’t afford to access the system – the tribunal is set up to address that in imbalance, to give the little guy a voice. What it means is that there are no lawyers. It’s not a court of law. In fact, you have to ask whether or not you can use a lawyer there and often, the tribunal will say no. You can go there even for little claims over a thousand dollars or so or for much bigger claims for more money. Often, if it’s a bigger claim, they’ll let you have a lawyer, but legal representation is not as of rights. You have to request it.
If a lawyer is granted, the Rules of Evidence and all that legal procedure does not apply. In fact, the person hearing the case, the tribunal member, often has no legal background, but they’re there to adjudicate the matter.
1) If you feel you’ve had an unfair contract.
2) If what you bought is not what you were told that it would be.
3) If you’ve been misled or deceived in some way.
4) If you’ve been baited and then switched in buying some product.
5) If the product doesn’t work.
6) If you have any sort of consumer complaint about a contract you’ve entered into, and it needn’t be a recent contract – it can just be old or it could be a transaction where you’ve bought something in a shop.
You can lodge a claim in NCAT or QCAT or VCAT, whatever state you’re in and you can do that yourself. You don’t need to know any law. You just fill in a form and then they’ll call you in for a mediation or a conciliation. They’ll put you in a room. They’ll have an adjudicator and they’ll try and sort it out. Many cases settle there, but if it doesn’t, they’ll ask each party to write out what their facts are, to give any evidence like invoices or any documents to prove your case, and then they’ll have a little mini hearing and make a decision. That decision can result in a sum of money awarded to you. It can result in orders about the product or provision of other products.
The tribunal has very broad powers to make sure justice is served where a contract has gone wrong, is unfair, or you’ve been misled in some way or a product is defective. It’s there to enforce the Australian consumer law and to give you access as a consumer where you don’t have to go to court, but justice is still served.
If you want to learn about property investment and property development in Australia, join Dominique Grubisa for this upcoming webinar and learn how you can find undervalued property that you can potentially purchase 10% – 40% below market value from motivated vendors.
Lawyer, Asset Protection Specialist and Property Educator
Dominique Grubisa is a practicing legal practitioner with over 22 years of legal and commercial experience. She is a property investor and developer, an entrepreneur with businesses in Australia and Southeast Asia, a speaker, educator, writer and published author. You may contact Dominique at firstname.lastname@example.org
This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.