New “Lemon Laws”: when car deals turn sour…
Changes are coming for how motor dealers and buyers resolve disputes thanks to new legislation recently revealed by the Queensland Government.
On 15 November 2018, the Government introduced the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018 (the Bill). The Bill is said to be a response to community concerns about ‘lemon’ motor vehicles.
The Bill is designed to, amongst other things, strengthen and broaden the rights of Queenslanders who have purchased new or used vehicles. Indeed, in the explanatory notes accompanying the Bill, the Government voiced its commitment to “improve fairness and provide greater rights for Queenslanders buying a vehicle”.
However, the Australian Consumer Law and the Queensland Sale of Goods Act 1896 and Fair Trading Act 1989 already imply buyer-friendly guarantees and conditions into vehicle sales, and the Queensland Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014 already provides a warranty for used vehicles less than 10 years old that have travelled less than 160,000km. So what difference would these so-called ‘Lemon Laws’ make?
The main changes would:
- increase the value of vehicle disputes that the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal can hear from $25,000 to $100,000;
- broaden the definition of vehicle to include motorhomes and caravans thereby extending existing protections to purchasers of these classes of vehicle; and
- re-instate the warranty for used vehicles more than 10 years old that have travelled 160,000km or more, which was in the now repealed Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000.
The reality is that the proposed reforms will only impact motor dealers and consumers in relatively minor ways.
But a more significant change may be on the way as the Queensland Government has expressed a commitment to continue to advocate for national laws to specifically protect new car buyers, such as a right of refund if a vehicle is not driveable because of defects within the first 60 days of ownership.
Watch this space.
Our Litigation + Dispute Resolution team is experienced in dealing with disputes of all kinds including those relating to motor vehicles. Contact us if a vehicle sale or purchase has left a sour taste in your mouth.