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Consumer Claims in New South Wales
Consumer claims in NSW relate to the supply of goods and services under the Fair Trading Act 1987 and the Australian Consumer Law. This includes disputes over monies, or the purchase of vehicles used for private use.
Consumer claims under $40,000 will need to be commenced in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Consumer claims in NSW with a greater monetary value will be determined in the Courts with the appropriate monetary jurisdiction.
A consumer claim is made against a supplier carrying on a business and not a private person. The time limit for such applications in NCAT is 3 years from when the cause of action arose, and the goods or services had to have been supplied no more than 10 years prior to the application being lodged.
NCAT is designed to be a cost effective and efficient means by which to resolve disputes. Normally once an application is lodged the first hearing date will be set within 6 weeks. In most cases you will also have to participate in a conciliation hearing in an attempt to resolve the matter between the parties without the need for the matter to proceed to trial.
How to lodge Consumer Claims in NSW for the supply of goods and services
If your consumer claim is $40,000 or less then you can lodge an application with NCAT. This can be done by either lodging the application online, or by downloading a Consumer Claim Application Form, and filing it with your local NCAT registry. You will be required to identify what the dispute is about, where the goods or services were purchased from, and whether they were purchased online.
An important part of the application will be clearly describing the orders you want the tribunal to make. These can include:
- an order that the supplier is to pay you an amount of money
- an order that you don’t have to pay the supplier an amount of money
- an order for work to be performed or services provided
- an order to repair or replace faulty goods, or
- an order for a refund and the goods to be returned.
To ensure your claim is successful you will need to explain why you are asking for such an order to be made. It is important to be as clear as possible, and include as much information required for the tribunal to make a determination.
You will also need to attach to the application documents and other evidence of the purchase, such as:
- photographs if the product is faulty or work is unfinished
- invoices, and
If the business, or supplier, is a company you will also need to attach an ASIC company or business name extract. These can be purchased from the ASIC website.
How to lodge a Consumer Claim that relates to a Motor Vehicle in NCAT
NCAT also determines matters relating to consumer claims relating to the purchase of a motor vehicle from a motor dealer which is used for private use, such as:
- disputes over warranties
- unsatisfactory repairs
- faulty new cars
- disputes between dealers and manufacturers about vehicle supply contracts, or
- unjust conduct under the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013.
To lodge a claim, you can apply online, or download the Motor Vehicles Consumer Claim Application Form, and file in your local registry. You will need to be able to clearly identify what the dispute is about, when the cause of action arose, and whether the matter has been referred to NSW Fair Trading.
While the jurisdictional limit in NCAT is $40,000 for consumer claims, this does not apply if the vehicle is new and is for private use (section 79S(6)(a) of the Fair Trading Act 1987). Some motor vehicle claims may have more than one respondent such as where repairs were undertaken, but the parts supplied by the manufacturer were defective. You therefore may claim against the person who did the repairs and the manufacturer.
In these situations NCAT may make orders that one person is to pay money, and another is to replace the goods. It is important to identify what orders you are seeking, and to provide evidence as to your claim including any quotes to have the vehicle repaired, if appropriate.
If the matter relates to unjust contract disputes then you will need to download the Motor Vehicles Application Motor Dealers Unfair Contract Dispute Form, and have attempted mediation with the NSW Small Business Commissioner.