When a breach of contract Failing to do what was agreed in a contract. occurs, there are, in An agreement that the law will enforce. law and Statutory rules made by parliament or by bodies the parliament delegates power to, for example a local council or a registration authority. See delegated legislation; statute., general remedies (see ‘An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate. remedies’, below) available by application to the most appropriate court or A body set up to hear and decide disputes, usually with less formality and less strict rules of evidence than in a court proceeding. for your particular case. Different courts or tribunals deal with different matters depending on the amount of money involved and, in some instances, the subject matter of the dispute and the relevant legislation. Generally, it remains for you to work out which court or tribunal is the appropriate place to hear your complaint. You may need to seek legal advice to help you decide this.
The Civil Claims List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) may hear and determine a ‘Under the Australian Consumer Law, a person who buys goods or services for less than $40 000 or for personal or home use. and trader dispute’ under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. 2012 (Vic) (s 184). A ‘consumer and trader dispute’ is a dispute arising between a supplier or possible supplier and a purchaser or possible purchaser in relation to the supply or possible supply of goods or services (s 182). VCAT has unlimited The authority of a court or tribunal to hear matters brought before it, based on some factor such as area or law, amount of money claimed, or geographic area. (i.e. claims for any amount) under this section. However, VCAT A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. treat ‘small claims’ where the amount involved in the dispute is less than $15 000 more informally, for example, with respect to The amount charged by a lawyer for legal work. Lawyers can only charge the amount agreed with the client in a costs agreement or the amount stated by a court in its rules. The party who loses a case usually has to pay all their own costs plus most of the costs reasonably incurred by the other side. See also indemnity costs. and legal representation (for further details, see ‘Small claims: VCAT’s Civil Claims List’, below). VCAT is not as expensive as the courts and is generally very effective in resolving many consumer problems.
Jurisdiction over consumer A debt that does not have to be paid until some future time. Being allowed to pay later, in the future, for something you are getting now.
Since 1 July 2010, VCAT has not had jurisdiction over consumer credit under the Consumer Credit (Victoria) Act 1995 (Vic). The National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) gives jurisdiction over consumer credit only to the federal courts, and external dispute resolution schemes. (For more information, see Chapter 5.7: Understanding credit and finance.)
Actions relating to a breach of contract may also be commenced in the Magistrates, County, Supreme or Federal Court, depending on the amount of money involved and the relevant legislation.
Another alternative is to submit the dispute to A form of alternative dispute resolution where the parties appoint an independent person (an arbitrator) to sort out their dispute. Arbitration is often the method choose to solve commercial construction and shipping disputes. It is less formal than a court hearing. An arbitrator’s decision is final and generally cannot be appealed. or A form of alternative dispute resolution where an independent person (a mediator) is appointed to help the parties come to agreement. Mediators do not decide the outcome of the dispute. They help the parties consider the issues and best possible outcome. Parties may choose to use mediation instead of going to court, or the court may order the parties to go to mediation as a way of avoiding a court hearing. See also arbitration; conciliation; negotiation..
Courts and VCAT now operate a mediation system in some circumstances. For further details, see ‘Magistrates’ Court: Arbitration’ and ‘Mediation’ in Chapter 1.2: An introduction to the courts. For disputes in the County, Supreme and federal courts, a court-approved mediator is appointed, when appropriate, prior to the The time and place at which a court or tribunal hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision.. Even when court proceedings are referred to a mediator, the court will retain power to order remedies. If the mediation fails, the court will proceed to hear the matter.