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New car a Lemon? QCAT has a solution.

We are often asked to assist clients with motor vehicle disputes because a vehicle is not fit for its purpose, not of acceptable quality, or does not comply with the demonstration model, sample or description provided by the seller, i.e. it is a “lemon”. There are many such cases which come before the courts and tribunals.

These sorts of matters will often require evidence from expert mechanics and the like to show why the vehicle is defective. This evidence can be difficult and expensive to obtain, particularly where the defect is not initially or readily apparent.

However, since September 2019, a special pathway (or “list”) has been set up in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) where disputes of this type of up to $100,000.00 are dealt with, called the Motor Vehicle List (MVL). 

Specifically, where a claim amounts to between $25,000.00 and $100,000.00, the parties can access the assistance of an independent assessor to obtain expert evidence identifying any defects and the likely cause once an application is listed on the MVL.

A number of highly qualified assessors with extensive automotive experience have been appointed to QCAT. The idea is to ensure that the appropriate independent expert evidence is available to avoid the parties incurring excessive costs in engaging their own experts. QCAT will appoint the independent expert assessor to provide the necessary expert evidence as to whether, on the balance of probabilities, a vehicle is defective.

Generally, the parties will be ordered to share the costs of the report equally (although QCAT can make such other orders as it sees appropriate with respect to the payment of these costs) and payment is required before the assessor is appointed.

Once appointed, the assessor is asked to inspect the vehicle the subject of the application. He or she must be given access to the vehicle and must then provide a report to QCAT. The parties receive a copy of the assessor’s report which is received by QCAT as expert evidence.

The report enables the parties to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their respective claims/defences with a view to assisting the timely and inexpensive resolution of disputes.

In addition, the parties will usually be required to provide statements from themselves and any other witnesses upon which they intend to rely to evidence the defects, or lack thereof.

The preparation of statements is an important part of a party’s preparation for a mediation or hearing as it needs to set out in detail what other evidence that party has to support the claim.

Generally, the parties are required to represent themselves in these types of matters but we can assist with the preparation of applications, responses, counter-applications and statements and review any expert evidence including the report of the assessor to assist you in achieving the best possible outcome and happy motoring!

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