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Introduction Of “Lemon Laws” Provides Queenslanders Greater Access To Consumer Law Protections

By Chris Volpi

21st October 2019

On 1 September 2019 theQueensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (QLD) came into effect. Among other things, the legislation sees the introduction of what are referred to as “lemon laws”.

These laws are designed to provide consumers who purchase new motor vehicles with greater access to consumer law guarantees under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

Consumers in Queensland are now able to bring claims of up to $100,000 against motor vehicle dealers for defective motor vehicles in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘QCAT’).

Prior to the introduction of the lemon laws, consumers were required to commence proceedings in the more costly and complex Magistrates Court if they wanted to recover an amount or other relief of more than $25,000 in respect of a defective motor vehicle.

The increased monetary threshold to $100,000 makes it easier for consumers to access consumer law guarantees in the low cost and less complex QCAT jurisdiction.

The introduction of the lemon laws follows from a 2015 inquiry into the need to improve consumer protections and remedies for buyers of new motor vehicles experiencing numerous or reoccurring defects.

In a media statement Queensland’s Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said that the lemon laws “will build levels of trust in the industry and benefit the majority of motor dealers who are doing the right thing by offering best practice in terms of refunds, replacements and repairs at no cost, when a vehicle is faulty.”

Motor vehicle dealers are now required to provide a 30 day or 1000km warranty for motor vehicles that are more than 10 years old or which have a reading of 160,000km or more on the odometer.

The State government’s implementation of the lemon laws follows a trend of ongoing consumer law reforms at the Federal level and demonstrates that both State and Federal governments recognise the need for increased consumer protection in Australia.

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