Better solutions for dispute resolution

| February 19, 2012

Disputes in strata schemes can and do occur.  Chairperson of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, Kay Ransome, wonders whether there may be a better dispute resolution model.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that disputes in strata and community schemes can and do arise.

The requirement in the present legislation for mediation of disputes is an important step in achieving solutions parties can work with.  For matters which do not resolve at mediation, there are currently different paths to determination depending on the type of dispute – an adjudication and a hearing before the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT).

The adjudication process relies on written material only.  This can pose some challenges in collating accurate and relevant material, particularly for people who are not proficient in English or have low literacy skills.  The exchange of written submissions between the parties, while necessary to ensure fairness, can take some time and can result in a lengthy process.

While there are rights of appeal from an Adjudicator to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal where a hearing is conducted, the legislation imposes limits on what can be considered as part of the appeal process.

Some disputes are determined by the CTTT directly without first going through the adjudication process.  There may be savings in respect of time and evidence in these cases, but the process can raise issues about legal costs.

It is in the interests of all lot owners that disputes in strata and community schemes are dealt with fairly and effectively and that durable solutions are provided.  This is an opportunity to consider new ways of reaching resolution in the wide range of disputes that arise.


Kay Ransome was appointed as Chairperson of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal in 2002.  Kay has a background in dispute resolution and has worked in tribunals at the state and federal level since 1990.

Strata Consultation Questions:

Q1. What are the main areas of the existing strata and community scheme laws you would like to see changed?
Q2. Can you see any future issues that need to be addressed in the legislation?
Q3. How could the management of strata and community schemes be improved?
Q4. Are there any changes needed to the way disputes in strata and community schemes are resolved?



  1. billy

    February 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    CTTT totally ineffective, and issues about legal costs

    Dear Kay Ransome

    My comment is "furious" which you will find below Clover Moore’s blog. Please please please, we beg you to just read or even glance into our applications for an independent managing agent, you will be shocked at what is going on in this building, it is straight out "theft" and mismanagement, not even being told of meetings, repairs being done without quotes or work orders, all approved by the one owner, and in a 3 unit block in which we are not allowed on the EC and not even informed of goings on.

    You would not believe what is happening now. We went for the appeal at CTTT( this is after they declined to allow us an independent managing agent-reason given, making it obvious that not one line was read- that no one else in body corporate had made an objection or application- had he read it, it would be obvious that it is 2 against 1 , and we are the one).
    We turn up, alone. They turn up with 2 lawyers at $500 each plus the owner who is doing the misappropriation. He flew in supposedly from NZ. They say they will bring 15 affidavits, and that either we accept what they say, or we must cross examine them. These are the plumber, electrician, gardener, carpenter, manager of strata etc etc. who are all making a profit at our expence, and who are dependent on work from the strata manager if they don’t comply. Now since we pay 37% as owners of Body corporate to fight our fight, and since this was once again postponed 6 weeks, we cannot afford to cross examine each of 15 tradesmen (many who have been working for unit 1 for 16 years), and pay the 37% of their and fully our costs. This is their ploy. Increase the cost, make us pay, keep postponing appeal,break us till we give up, and they continue the misappropriation of funds.
    So since my husband is a busy medical practitioner, and it has affected his health badly, I begged him to drop the case, which he finally did. So now we have a bill for the 2 lawyers, the airline ticket to come to Sydney etc etc, to pay for their side, and they are laughing all the way to the bank, because they can continue to use our money for their own use. We have written proof of everything, we even have signatures from postmen who delivered notices of meetings AFTER they took place. Now my husband wants to continue the fight, it will be a great strain financially and a strain on his health, this must be stopped, the managing agents and the owners of unit 1 and 2 who are well versed at this type of activity, have been given carte blanche to continue.
    Could you at least help us get an appointment with NSW minister of fair trading Hon Anthony Roberts, if you cannot help. If anyone would read our applications they would be shocked at what they find, it is totally unbelievable what is going on in this building, with electricity cupboards locked, with carpenters doing private works at BC expence, with electrician changing around unit numbers so that unit 1 number is at the top (instead of our penthouse), with our decking at back being lifted and not repaired, with trying to make us pay $16,000 to fix aircondit.unit on the roof that was non existent, with trying to fix a roof for $85,000 without putting back heat polystyrene bats and pebbles, and with another quote for $28,000 for the roof ($57,000 less), with gardeners charging $1300 a visit, when now the whole year was less since I stand and watch them, with painting that is peeling after $10,000 plus expence, and refusal to call painter back etc etc.
    Please call us, we are home, as you fully appreciate the system as it stands has to be changed. AS most things it has to be approached from grass root level, this is a prime example for the basis of such changes, and we cannot do this fight alone.
    Our number is with open forum.
  2. dech

    February 22, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Recompense for CTTT fees/expenses.

    Where the CTTT rules that the complainant was unambiguously in the right and having conveyed the complaint twice to the OC then the CTTT should order that the OC pay the cost of mediation/adjudication plus say fifty dollars for reasonable expenses (including an hour for admin).