Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal of New South Wales

Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal of New South Wales

The Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal of New South Wales is a tribunal that specialises in resolving consumer disputes in New South Wales, a state of Australia. The tribunal has concurrent jurisdiction in respect of certain consumer claims with the normal civil courts of New South Wales. In other areas of consumer law, it has exclusive jurisdiction. It was created on 25 February 2002.

Contents

History

The tribunal was created by the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal Act 2001 (NSW). It replaced the former Fair Trading Tribunal of New South Wales and the Residential Tribunal of New South Wales. The former tribunals had been criticised in the New South Wales Parliament for being unresponsive and slow. The current tribunal is the latest attempt to improve consumer dispute resolution in New South Wales.

Constitution

The tribunal consists of a Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons. Senior Members and Members are also appointed to the tribunal. Senior members hear more complex cases. The tribunal may also use assessors to determine particular issues. Assessors are generally experts in the field that there is a dispute in.

Structure

The Tribunal has eight Divisions, ie. General, Motor Vehicles, Tenancy, Home Building, Commercial, Strata and Community Schemes, Residential Parks, and Retirement Villages. Some of the Divisions limit the amount of money that may be claimed (eg. $25,000 in the General Division and $500,000 in the Home Building Division), but others have no upper limit.

Registries of the tribunal are located in Sydney, Parramatta, Hurstville, Penrith, Liverpool, Newcastle, Wollongong and Tamworth. Applications may lodged at those registries.

The tribunal also sits at other country venues depending on the amount of work in those areas.

Divisional structure

The General Division deals with consumer claims in relation to goods and services, which may include faulty goods and work by traders not performed properly. The tribunal can award a maximum of $25,000.

The Motor Vehicles Division handles disputes about new and used motor vehicles (including motor boats) and repairs. There is no maximum claim.

The Tenancy Division deals with breaches of leases, excessive rent increases, termination of the rental agreement, and the return of rental bonds. An order can be made up to $20,000 with respect to a rental bond or $10,000 for other matters.

The Home Building Division deals with matters under The Home Building Act 1989 (NSW). The tribunal has jurisdiction to $500,000.

The Commercial Division deals with disputes over credit contracts under the Consumer Credit (New South Wales) Act 1995 (NSW)(which is also known nationally in Australia as the Consumer Credit Code of Australia) and the Credit Act 1984 . The Division also deals with disputes over the licensing and conduct of travel agents under the Travel Agents Act 1986 (NSW) , and commission fees charged by real estate agents licensed under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 1941 (NSW).

The Strata and Community Schemes Division deals with disputes under the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW). These disputes relate to strata by-laws, maintenance levies, reallocation of unit entitlements, and alterations to common property.

The Retirement Villages Division deals with disputes under the Retirement Villages Act 1999 (NSW). It deals with issues such the terms of a retirement village contract, the legality of a village rule, and the sale or lease of premises by a resident.

The Residential Parks Division deals with disputes under the Residential Parks Act 1998 (NSW). Issues for dispute may involve the terms of the residential tenancy agreement, notices of termination, alterations and additions to dwellings, rent issues, rental bonds, and so on.The Residential Parks Division is rather unique as it is one of the few divisions that has group hearings. Group hearings often have large numbers of applicants, and these applicants are usually represented by an advocate. These advocates normally work for organisations like the Tenants Advice Services, the Affiliated Residential Park Residents Association or the Northern Alliance of Park Residents Association.


Procedure

Parties are normally expected to run their own cases and pay their own costs, although legal representatives are allowed and costs may be awarded in certain circumstances. These restrictions are intended to make the Tribunal process quick, informal and affordable. Parties usually appear in person, but may also appear by telephone in certain circumstances.

Review

A party who disagrees with the determination of the Tribunal can apply for a rehearing if specific criteria are met. An appeal may be lodged with the District Court of New South Wales on a question of law.

Peer Review Panel

The Peer Review Panel consists of the two Deputy Chairpersons and one other person appointed by the Minister for Fair Trading. The panel reviews matters referred to it by the Chairperson, Director-General of the Department of Fair Trading or the Minister, and in due course, provides advice in response. Matters considered by the Panel may include the investigation of complaints against Members, taking disciplinary action against them, and the educational and training needs of Members.

References



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