Amendments to the Consumer Claims Act 1998 apply from 1 March 2008.
There are a number of amendments which are important to consumers making applications to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction if the goods or services were supplied or intended to be supplied in NSW, as well as when the contract was made in NSW.
The time period for applying to the Tribunal is now 3 years from the date when the cause of action accrued. However, action must still be commenced within 10 years of supply of the goods or services.
The definition of a ‘consumer claim’ has been changed to make it clear that the Tribunal has jurisdiction in matters where there was no direct contract between the parties, such as a claim by a consumer against a manufacturer.
The Tribunal can now make orders between respondents, for example, when an order is made against a retailer to refund to the consumer, the Tribunal will also be able to make an order that the manufacturer reimburse the retailer. In this case both the retailer and the manufacturer would need to be listed as respondents.
The Tribunal must dismiss or adjourn the matter if the applicant does not present his or her case.
Note - This amendment does not prevent the consumer arranging with the Tribunal to present their case by other means if they cannot appear in person, for example by submitting written or other evidence or using a representative, if the Tribunal consents to this.
Last year the Consumer Claims Regulation 2007 came into force on 1 September. It increased the jurisdiction limit of the Tribunal to $30,000. A further amendment has been made to ensure that this limit also applies to orders between respondents. This means the Tribunal is able to make an order of up to $30,000 to be paid to the consumer and may also make an order for one respondent to pay up to $30,000 to another respondent.
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