Major changes to motor industry laws
Overview of the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013
The Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013 was developed following a full-scale review of the motor industry legislation and extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders. This Act replaced the former Motor Dealers Act 1974 and Motor Vehicle Repairs Act 1980. The Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013 was approved by Parliament in November 2013. The new legislation commenced on 1 December 2014.
A summary of the important provisions in the new legislation is provided below.
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What this means for industry
Changes to the licensing arrangements for motor dealers, motor vehicle recyclers, motor vehicle repairers include:
- a simplified business licensing system. The previous six motor dealer and sixteen motor vehicle repair business licence types have been consolidated into three licence types: motor dealer, motor vehicle recycler and motor vehicle repairer
- the option of a three year licence, providing savings in time and money for businesses
- an online register of licence holders which will be available on the Fair Trading website. The register will make it easier to identify unlicensed businesses operating in the industry
- all licensees are required to keep records in a prescribed format
- businesses that do certain work restricted to the installation or replacement of accessories that do not affect the safety or performance of a vehicle, no longer need to hold a licence to do that work; these businesses continue to have obligations to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law.
Changes to tradesperson certification include:
- tradesperson certificates need to be renewed every three years
- there is a minimum Certificate III qualification requirement for new tradesperson certificate holders
- the classes of repair work for tradesperson certificates have been updated and consolidated
- certain work involved with the installation or replacement of accessories that do not affect safety or performance of a vehicle will no longer require a tradesperson certificate.
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Dealer dispute resolution
The changes include the introduction of a new dispute resolution mechanism for motor dealers in dispute with vehicle suppliers or manufacturers about unjust conduct or unfair contract terms. This provision commenced when the Act received assent in November 2013. Motor dealers can initially take a complaint to the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner and if a resolution cannot be reached by mediation, the matter can be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a determination.
- prescribed forms and registers (including parts) have been updated and consolidated with new licence display and signage requirements
- existing licensees have until 1 September 2015 to meet new record keeping, licence display and signage requirements.
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What this means for consumers
Repair work on motor vehicles
Where repair work is carried out from 1 December 2014:
- trade qualified Fair Trading inspectors are able to issue rectification orders to resolve disputes between consumers and traders about repair work on a vehicle that is incomplete or defective, or if a dealer guarantee has not been met
- rectification orders are enforceable and are able to be used as evidence before a court or tribunal. Failure to follow an order can result in disciplinary action being taken by Fair Trading against a licensed business.
The Motor Dealers and Repairers Compensation Fund protects consumers when they have been left out of pocket because a repairer or dealer has done the wrong thing. If all attempts to get money from the repairer or dealer have been unsuccessful, the consumer can make a claim on the fund. The maximum compensation payable is $40,000.
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Disclosure when buying a car
New disclosure provisions include:
- it is mandatory for motor dealers to disclose to consumers information that might affect a consumer's decision to buy a car or to buy a car at a certain price
- this includes information about any major modifications to a vehicle, past flood or hail damage, whether a vehicle has previously been written-off and whether there is any suspicion of odometer tampering
- dealers are required to disclose this information in the dealer notice that must be used in the sale of certain vehicles
- there are substantial penalties for a motor dealer who fails to disclose important information to consumers about a vehicle they are looking to purchase.
Other consumer protection provisions include:
- statutory warranty provisions for vehicle sales have been made more consistent with consumer guarantees under the national Australian Consumer Law
- penalites for odometer tampering doubled to $22,000
- motor dealers who intend to sell vehicles by consignment are required to advise Fair Trading on their licence application
- an online 'licence check' facility will be established on the Fair Trading website which will include information for each licensee about their licence, including any disciplinary action or offences recorded against the licensee.
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