Step 1: Refer the Dispute to NSW Fair Trading

Before you can apply to NCAT for a home building disputes, you must first refer the dispute to NSW Fair Trading. This involves making a complaint to NSW Fair Trading and attempting to resolve the dispute through a process of mediation or conciliation. If the dispute is not resolved at this stage, you will be issued with a certificate that confirms that you have attempted to resolve the dispute with the other party.

Step 2: Lodge an Application with NCAT

Once you have obtained a certificate from NSW Fair Trading, you can lodge an application with NCAT. The application must include the following information:

Details of the parties involved in the dispute, including their names, addresses, and contact details

Details of the residential building work that is the subject of the dispute, including the nature of the work and the date it was carried out

Details of the dispute, including the nature of the issue and the outcome you are seeking

Copies of any orders or rectification orders issued by NSW Fair Trading

Any other evidence or documents that support your case.

You can lodge the application online or in person at any NCAT registry or Service NSW service centre. You will need to pay a fee to lodge the application, which varies depending on the value of the dispute.

Step 3: Attend the Directions Hearing

After you have lodged the application, you will be notified of the date and time of the directions hearing. This is a preliminary hearing that is held to set out the process for the resolution of the dispute. At the directions hearing, you will need to provide the following information:

Your availability for the NCAT hearing

The evidence and witnesses you intend to rely on

Any expert reports you intend to rely on

Any objections to the other party’s evidence or witnesses.

The directions hearing is an opportunity for the parties to agree on the issues in dispute and to identify the evidence that will be presented at the hearing. If the parties are unable to reach agreement, the Tribunal will make directions for the resolution of the dispute.

Step 4: Prepare for the Hearing

After the directions hearing, you will need to prepare for the hearing. This involves gathering and organising your evidence, preparing your witness statements, and arranging for any expert witnesses to attend the hearing. Some tips for preparing for the hearing include:

Gathering all relevant documents, such as contracts, invoices, and correspondence

Taking photographs or videos that demonstrate the condition of the property or the work that was done

Preparing a list of questions for your witnesses to answer

Arranging for any expert witnesses to attend the hearing and provide their reports.

Step 5: Attend the Hearing

On the day of the hearing, you will need to attend the Tribunal and present your case. The hearing will be conducted by a Tribunal Member, who will ask questions about the application and the evidence that has been presented. The other party will also have an opportunity to present their case and to ask questions of your witnesses.

At the hearing, you should be prepared to:

Present your evidence, including any documents, photographs, or videos

Call your witnesses to give evidence

Cross-examine the other party’s witnesses

Make submissions to the Tribunal about the issues in dispute and the outcome you are seeking.

Step 6: Receive a Decision

After the hearing, the Tribunal will make a decision and issue orders that are binding on both parties. The decision will be based on the evidence that was presented at the hearing, as well as any legal principles that apply to the case.

The orders that the Tribunal can make include:

An order for the payment of money

An order for the provision of goods or services

An order for the rectification of defective work

An order for the refund of money paid for work that was not carried out

An order for the termination of a contract.

The Tribunal may also award costs to one party, depending on the circumstances of the case. It is important to note that NCAT’s orders are final and binding, and you must comply with them unless you have a lawful or reasonable excuse not to do so.

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Lodging an application with NCAT for a home building dispute can be a complex and stressful process. However, by following the steps outlined above, you can increase your chances of obtaining a satisfactory outcome to your dispute. Remember that it is important to gather all relevant evidence and to present a clear and concise case to the Tribunal. If you are unsure about any aspect of the process, you may wish to seek legal advice or the assistance of a specialist home building disputes resolution service.