Motor vehicle disputes

What motor vehicle disputes can QCAT hear?

QCAT can hear motor vehicle disputes against a motor dealer for failure to repair a defect of a warranted vehicle under the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014 (MDCAA) or for failure to comply with a consumer guarantee under the Fair Trading Act 1984 – (Consumer Law Provisions) (FTA).

When can an application be brought for a motor vehicle dispute?

A motor vehicle dispute arises under the MDCAA when:

  1. a buyer purchases a new or used warranted motor vehicle from a licensed motor dealer; and
  2. the vehicle is defective; and
  3. the motor dealer has:
    1. refused to accept that a defect is covered by a warranty; or
    2. failed to repair a defect; or
    3. failed to repair a defect so it can be reasonably relied upon.

This is also known as a statutory warranty.

A motor vehicle dispute arises under FTA when:

  1. a buyer purchases a new or used motor vehicle from a supplier of motor vehicles (a trader) and
  2. the motor vehicle does not comply with a consumer guarantee.

A consumer guarantee is a promise made to a consumer that a motor vehicle purchased is fit for purpose, is of acceptable quality and fits any demonstration model, sample or description provided. Consumer guarantees apply by law in addition to any other warranty, including a statutory warranty.

How much can I claim for?

QCAT’s jurisdiction is limited to motor vehicle disputes in which the relief or amount sought is not more than $100,000.

Who can make an application?

A consumer can make an application for a motor vehicle dispute if the consumer has bought a vehicle from:

  1. A licensed motor dealer (warrantor) or,
  2. A supplier of motor vehicles (a trader).

What types of motor vehicles do the laws apply to?

Under the MDCAA a warranted vehicle includes a car and a motorhome. The MDCAA does not apply to caravans.

Under the FTA the definition of a motor vehicle is wider and includes a car, motorhome, caravan and motorcycle.

The MDCAA and FTA do not apply to a motor vehicle that is a hovercraft, golf buggy, motorised scooter, motorised wheelchair, trailer, tractor or farm machinery, or mining or railway vehicle.

Are there steps I have to take before lodging an application with QCAT?

Parties are encouraged to try and resolve the matter before applying to QCAT. You can contact the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG), Dispute Resolution Branch to arrange mediation. Contact numbers for each region are available on the DJAG website. Mediation provides you with an opportunity to settle the matter yourselves without a QCAT decision.

Can I bring a motor vehicle matter to QCAT if the claim arose before the laws commenced?

A motor vehicle dispute that has already commenced as a minor civil dispute before 1 September 2019 will continue as a minor civil dispute.

A motor vehicle dispute where the defect or problem with the vehicle arose before 1 September 2019, for which a proceeding has not been started will be heard under the law as it applies from 1 September 2019.

What is a warranted vehicle?

A vehicle which is sold by a licensed motor vehicle dealer or chattel auctioneer may be sold subject to a statutory warranty.

There are two types of warranties:

  • Class A warranted vehicle - on the day a vehicle is sold, it has an odometer reading of less than 160000km; and is not more than 10 years old.
  • Class B warranted vehicle – on the day of its sale has an odometer reading of more than 160000km or is more than 10 years old.

What is the warranty period?

The warranty period depends on whether the vehicle has a Class A or Class B warranty.

Class A the warranty ends when the first of the following happens:

  • the vehicle travels 5000km since the time of taking possession or,
  • 5pm the day 3 months after the time of taking possession.

Class B - the warranty ends when the first of the following happens:

  • the vehicle travels 1000km since the time of taking possession or,
  • 5pm the day 1 month after the time of taking possession.

When has a motor dealer failed to comply with a warranty?

Where a vehicle is the subject of a warranty, the buyer of the vehicle can bring an application under Sch 1, s 14 of the MDCAA, against the licensed motor dealer (warrantor) who sold the vehicle if the buyer has notified the motor dealer that the vehicle had a defect within the warranty period and the motor dealer:

  • refused to accept that the defect is covered by the statutory warranty; or
  • accepted that the defect is covered by the statutory warranty but has failed to repair within the required period; or
  • failed to repair the defect so that the defective part can be reasonably relied upon to perform its intended function.

What is a consumer guarantee?

The law automatically gives consumers rights when they buy goods and services from a business. These are called consumer guarantees. A consumer can seek a remedy if a product or service they purchase does not meet a consumer guarantee.

What does a consumer guarantee under the FTA mean?

A consumer guarantee is a promise made to a consumer that a motor vehicle purchased is fit for purpose, is of acceptable quality and fits any demonstration model, sample or description provided. Consumer guarantees apply by law in addition to any other warranty, including a statutory warranty and manufacturer’s warranty.

A claim regarding a failure to comply with a consumer guarantee about a motor vehicle may be brought to QCAT as provided for in the Fair Trading Act 1984, section 50A.

You can find out more about consumer guarantees from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission here.

How do I make an application to QCAT for a motor vehicle matter?

  1. Complete and lodge a Form 59 – Application Motor Vehicle Dispute. You must lodge a copy for each party including yourself as the applicant and a copy for the file. You must answer all of the questions on the application form, refer to the instructions for completing at the end of the form, and
  2. Attach copies of all documents that are referred to in the application form and serve them on the respondent.

When the dispute is against a company or a partnership, it is very important the full name and address of the company or partnership is detailed on the application form. This ensures that you take action against the correct party.

When the respondent is a company or business, you must attach an Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) search showing the company name and the address of the registered office of the respondent company. A search fee may be charged.

Where do I find a motor vehicle dispute application form?

The application forms are available on QCAT’s website. You can also find and lodge these application forms at QCAT’s Brisbane office or at your local Magistrates Court (excluding the Brisbane Magistrates Court).

To find your nearest Magistrates Court, visit courts.qld.gov.au. For more information visit qcat.qld.gov.au or call 1300 753 228.

When lodging a motor vehicle dispute application the prescribed filing fee must be paid. You can find information about QCAT fees on QCAT’s website.

What information do I have to provide with my application form?

The application form requires you to attach all of the documents you rely upon to support your application for example:

  • the contract for the purchase of the vehicle
  • any warranty notice relating to the motor vehicle
  • any defect notice which has been given on the motor vehicle
  • any correspondence between the parties or other documents such as invoices which are directly relevant to the dispute
  • any photos you want to rely upon
  • any report you have obtained by an expert relating to a vehicle.

What happens after I have filed my application?

At QCAT

QCAT will review your application and accompanying documents.

QCAT will return to you copies of your application which have been stamped with the QCAT seal.

Service of documents

You must then give (serve) a copy of the sealed documents to the other party. You may serve the documents by post or use the services of a Magistrates Court bailiff, commercial agent or process server to serve the documents on your behalf.

Further information about serving QCAT documents is available here.

What is the process that motor vehicle matters will follow?

QCAT has a Practice Direction relating to motor vehicle matters on the QCAT website – Practice Direction No. 2 of 2019 – Motor Vehicle List. The Practice Direction sets out the procedural aspects of motor vehicle dispute matters.

After an application is filed QCAT may list the matter for a directions hearing where one or more of the following may occur:

  • a final decision is made resolving the matter if the parties can reach an agreement.
  • the matter is listed for a mediation.
  • you may be directed to file additional documents to support your case.
  • a qualified vehicle assessor may be ordered to assess the vehicle and provide an expert report.
  • parties may be ordered to contribute to the cost of the report.

These are examples only. The member hearing your particular case may decide on another course of action.

What can I do if a motor vehicle dispute is lodged against me?

If you are named as the respondent to an application for a motor vehicle dispute and you wish to contest the matter you must file a response and/or a counter-application.

To file a response and/or counter-application against the original application, complete and lodge a Form 60 – Response and /or counter-application – motor vehicle dispute.

What is a response to a motor vehicle dispute?

In the response you set out:

  • those facts in the application that you admit are true
  • facts you say are not true and why they are not true.
  • any extra facts you say are relevant to the dispute.

The response should give a direct explanation for answers you make to allegations made in the application.

What is a counter-application?

You may have a counter-application against the applicant or another party. For example, a respondent to an application for a motor vehicle dispute may have a claim against a manufacturer of a vehicle or a specific part of the vehicle.

What orders can QCAT make about motor vehicles?

QCAT can make orders including:

  • that the respondent pay to the applicant an amount of money;
  • to declare a defect is or is not covered by a warranty;
  • to extend a warranty or declare a vehicle is covered by a warranty to a certain date;
  • to declare an amount of money is not owing by a party to another party;
  • to direct that work be performed to rectify a defect;
  • to direct that a party return a vehicle to a party or stated person.

Can I have legal representation or have someone else represent me?

Generally, parties in QCAT proceedings are expected to represent themselves. QCAT may grant leave for a party to be represented.

A party who wants to be represented must apply to QCAT by completing and filing a form Form 56 – Application for leave to be represented. The Tribunal will then decide whether or not to allow that representation.

However, you are not required to seek leave to be represented if:

  • You are a child or a person with impaired capacity
  • Relevant laws state that you may be legally represented.

Where can I obtain legal advice about my motor vehicle dispute?

As part of an independent tribunal, QCAT registry staff are unable to provide legal advice. Information about obtaining legal advice is available at https://www.qcat.qld.gov.au/resources/legal-advice-and-representation.

I have an order from QCAT but the other party is not complying with it what can I do?

If QCAT has made a decision relating to a motor vehicle dispute and the respondent has not complied with the order you can visit https://www.qcat.qld.gov.au/qcat-decisions/enforcing-a-qcat-decision for further information on enforcement.