NCAT has the power to hear and determine a wide range of disputes and complaints in NSW, including:
Building claims under the Home Building Act, where the amount claimed does not exceed $500,000 (or any other figure prescribed by regulations).
Consumer complaints about the supply of goods or services in NSW up to the value of $100,000 through NCAT’s Consumer and Commercial Division.
Administrative decisions made by NSW government agencies in a diverse range of matters.
NCAT also has the power to use alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, conciliation, and case conferences, to resolve disputes without the need for a formal hearing.
Limitations to NCAT's Jurisdiction
While NCAT has the power to hear and determine a wide range of disputes and complaints, there are limitations to its jurisdiction. These limitations include:
NCAT may not have jurisdiction if a claim is lodged more than three years after the supply of goods or services, or more than 10 years after the completion of residential building work.
NCAT may not have jurisdiction for building claims arising from a breach of a statutory warranty implied under Part 2C if the claim is lodged after the end of the period within which proceedings for a breach of the statutory warranty must be commenced.
NCAT may not have jurisdiction for building claims relating to a contract for the supply of goods or services if the claim is lodged more than three years after the date on which the contract was entered into.
NCAT and Court Jurisdiction
Tribunals and courts are different. While courts have formal procedures and follow strict technical rules, tribunals like NCAT are more relaxed and informal
Difference between Court and NCAT
NCAT and courts both have the power to hear and determine disputes, there are some key differences between the two.
NCAT is generally less formal than a court. For example, NCAT proceedings are not usually recorded, and parties are not required to wear formal attire.
When Must You go to Court
The dispute exceeds NCAT's jurisdiction limit:
If the amount claimed exceeds NCAT’s jurisdiction limit, a homeowner may need to go to court instead.
Complex legal issues:
Tips for Dealing with NCAT
If you’re a homeowner dealing with a dispute in NCAT, here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Gather evidence: Gather all the relevant evidence, such as building expert reports, contracts, letters, invoices, and phone records to support your case.
- Engage a specialist solicitor or attorney: If your building dispute exceeds $30,000, it’s recommended that you engage a specialist solicitor or attorney to represent you in NCAT proceedings.
- Prepare your evidence: Prepare your evidence in a clear and concise manner. Use visual aids if necessary, such as diagrams and photos.
- Be prepared to negotiate: Consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or conciliation, to try and reach a settlement without the need for a formal hearing.
- Be respectful: Be respectful to the NCAT member and the other party involved in the dispute. Stay calm and focused, and avoid getting emotional or confrontational.
In conclusion, NCAT plays an important role in resolving disputes between homeowners and builders. Homeowners should be aware of NCAT’s jurisdictional limits and procedures, as well as their rights and obligations when presenting evidence. While engaging a lawyer or solicitor is not mandatory, it can be helpful in navigating the complex legal process, particularly if the dispute exceeds NCAT’s jurisdictional limit of $500,000. By understanding the NCAT procedures and rules, homeowners can make informed decisions and effectively protect their rights when dealing with building disputes.