In brief - Four divisions of NCAT have replaced 22 former tribunals in NSW
The Consumer and Commercial Division of NCAT now has jurisdiction to deal with retail tenancy disputes and claims of unconscionable, misleading or deceptive conduct.
NCAT established to provide single point of access for most tribunal services in NSW
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (officially known as NCAT) was established by statute, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW) ("NCAT Act"), Civil and Administrative Tribunal Regulation 2013 (NSW) ("NCAT Regulation") and the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997, formerly the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997.
From 1 January 2014, NCAT commenced operation to provide a single point of access for most tribunal services in replacing 22 of the state's former tribunals, including the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal ("CTTT") and the Administrative Decisions Tribunal ("ADT"). (For more information please see our earlier article Tribunals system in NSW reformed by establishment of NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).)
NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and retail leases
The Consumer and Commercial Division of the NCAT now has jurisdiction to deal with retail tenancy disputes and claims of unconscionable, misleading or deceptive conduct. Proceedings relating to retail tenancy disputes are generally commenced in the Consumer and Commercial Division of the NCAT by an Application for Original Decision and a Request for an Interim Order accompanied by the requisite application fee. In the case of a retail lease matter, the current application fee is $77.
In circumstances where lease-related applications had been lodged with the ADT prior to 1 January 2014, these matters will be directly transferred and dealt with by NCAT, including proceedings which had already commenced before the ADT. Therefore new applications do not have to be lodged at the NCAT.
Key points about retail lease disputes and the NCAT
• When commencing proceedings at the NCAT, applicants must comply with the procedures and practices which have been formally set out in Schedule 3 of the NCAT Act and the NCAT Regulation. Although the prescribed rules and procedures appear to reflect those which previously applied to the ADT, it remains unclear whether such rules and procedures will be modified by the NCAT over time.
• Applicants may apply online, by post or lodge application forms at the relevant registry. However, it is important to note that urgent applications cannot be lodged online and must be made in writing.
• Applications concerning leasing disputes must be submitted with a certificate issued by the NSW Small Business Commissioner which certifies that mediation has failed to resolve the dispute. If an application for an original decision is not accompanied by the certificate, the application will not be processed by the NCAT.
• Exceptions to the requirement for mediation include applications for urgent interim orders or for the appointment of a specialist retail valuer.
• Hearings conducted by the NCAT are to be done with little formality, with parties being encouraged to present their own case.
For further information on the NCAT, interested parties may access the NCAT website, telephone the NCAT on 1300 006 228 or attend one of the NCAT registries located in the Sydney CBD, Balmain, Hurstville, Liverpool, Newcastle, Penrith, Tamworth and Wollongong.
This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2020.