Consumer and trader disputes
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Who is a trader?
A trader is generally a person who in trade or commerce has a business that supplies goods or provides services.
However, a trader is not a person who supplies goods or provides services if that person’s work is not ordinarily regarded as being within trade or commerce.
Examples of persons who QCAT has previously decided do not meet the definition of traders are:
- lawyers (see Morales v Murray Lyons Solicitors (a firm)  QCATA 87)
- podiatrists (see McDonald v Kenmore Podiatry Pty Ltd  QCAT 126)
- professional town planning consultants (see Davy v Ryter Planning Pty Ltd  QCATA 96)
- valuers (see Early Property Group Pty Ltd t/a Early Group Valuers v Cavallaro  QCATA 65).
What is a consumer and trader dispute?
Consumer and trader disputes involve disputes against another person, trader or company arising out of a contract for the supply of goods and services, valued up to and including $25,000.
Goods include food, clothes, appliances and furniture.
Services include repairing a defect in a motor vehicle, car maintenance, meals served in restaurants and a haircut by a hairdresser.
However, your dispute may be a debt dispute, not a consumer and trader dispute, if it is about a fixed or agreed sum of money valued up to and including $25,000 e.g. a debt resulting from overhanging branches, an IOU or money lent and not repaid.
How can I resolve the dispute?
You should try and resolve your dispute directly with the other party by contacting them, holding a face-to-face meeting or writing to them. Some traders and companies have complaints processes in place or are part of an industry scheme that can resolve disputes.
Once you have reached agreement, you should write to the other party confirming your agreement. It is recommended that all parties sign the agreement and keep a copy.
If however, you are unable to reach a satisfactory outcome you can either choose to:
- invite the other party to attend mediation which is a way of settling a dispute without legal action. The Department of Justice provides a free mediation service through its Dispute Resolution Branch, or
- apply to QCAT to resolve your dispute. Claims must be lodged within six years of the incident happening.