Information for individuals and business
NSW Fair Trading manages a range of consumer protection legislation which requires people in a particular industry to be licensed. The types of licences and certificates we issue include real estate agents, conveyancers, motor vehicle repairers, pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers, motor dealers, trade, builder and electrical.
If you have a licence, operate a licensed business or are involved in the operation of a licensed business and Fair Trading believes you’ve been involved in a breach of the law, then we might take disciplinary action against you. As part of the disciplinary process you’ll be asked to give reasons why we should not take action against you. At any stage during the disciplinary process, we can drop the matter. If we decide to take action, we can issue you a formal caution or reprimand, impose a monetary penalty or condition on your licence or, where the conduct is serious, cancel your licence and disqualify you from holding or obtaining a licence in the future.
What is a notice to show cause?
A notice to show cause is the starting point for disciplinary action. It will describe the alleged misconduct, set out the specific grounds for the disciplinary action and advises how you can respond to the notice. The show cause process is your opportunity to persuade Fair Trading not to take disciplinary action.
How long do I have to respond?
A licence holder generally has 14 days to respond to a notice to show cause although longer periods are allowed. The period will be clearly set out in the notice. An extension of time can be granted where it is fair and reasonable to do so but it is important that you contact Fair Trading to arrange an extension before the time expires.
How do I show cause?
The notice to show cause will contain the following information:
- how submissions may be made (either written or verbal)
- the address to which written submissions must be sent
- if there is an opportunity to make verbal submissions and who to contact for an appointment.
Submissions must be made in writing unless the particular legislation allows you to make verbal submissions.
If you make a verbal submission, it will be recorded on audio tape. If a tape recording is made, you’ll get a copy.
You may choose to consult an industry association or legal practitioner for advice and your lawyer can also accompany you during your verbal submissions.
Fair Trading will only make a decision after considering the relevant circumstances and evidence.
What if I don’t respond?
If you don’t respond a decision may be made and disciplinary action taken against you without you having had the opportunity to present your case. You should carefully consider your position and take advice before deciding not to respond to the notice to show cause.
What happens once a decision has been made?
Once a decision has been made, Fair Trading will notify you in writing of the decision.
Can I appeal the decision?
You can write to Fair Trading requesting a review of the decision. The internal review will be conducted by someone other than the original decision maker. You can also ask for a review of the decision by lodging an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. If you have not requested an internal review by Fair Trading, the Tribunal may ask you to do that first.
Need more information?
If you are in doubt about any of the material provided to you or unsure how you should handle the process, you can contact the officer identified in the notice. You can also ask a lawyer and industry association for advice or assistance.