From 1 July 2015, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) will apply stricter penalties for contractors who commit building offences under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (Qld) (QBCC Act) or the Domestic Building Contracts Act 2000 (Qld) (DBCA).
The introduction of increased penalties is aimed at ensuring compliance with building standards and to reduce the level of offenders continuing to work in the building industry. QBCC Acting Commissioner, Kellie Low, indicated that the changes were being introduced because“[i]nadequate supervision is the main contributor to defective building work... [and under the new system] contractors will be encouraged to closely supervise work and ensure it complies with relevant standards.”
What are the new changes?
The new changes mean that there will be an increased number of demerit offences as well as an increase in the number of demerit points attached to these offences. Some offences that will attract the highest penalty of 10 demerit points include when:
- a contractor carries out building work without a nominee
- unauthorised fire protection work is carried out
- a licensed contractor assists an unlicensed contractor to undertake building work in breach of section 42 of the QBCC Act
- a contractor carries out defective or incomplete work and fails to rectify the work when directed to do so by the QBCC.
The new demerits schedule can be found here.
The increase in demerit points attributable to certain offences is, in some cases, quite significant. For example, failure to rectify defective work currently carries two demerit points, but from 1 July the penalty will jump to 10 demerit points.
It is important to note that there are also a range of financial penalties associated with each of these offences that will continue to apply under the QBCC Act.
What does this mean for you?
It is important for head contractors to ensure that they are engaging appropriately licensed subcontractors to undertake building work, otherwise they may find themselves unwittingly in breach of the QBCC Act. All contractors should ensure that their subcontractors have an obligation under their subcontracts to comply with the requirements of the QBCC Act to help mitigate their risk of non-compliance with the QBCC Act.
It remains that accrual of 30 demerit points in a three year period will result in cancellation of a contractor’s licence and the contractor will be disqualified from holding a licence for three years. If that same contractor accumulates a further 30 demerit points within 10 years of the first disqualification, then they will be disqualified for life. This means that for long-life building contracts, head contractors have even more reason to regularly request proof of licence from its subcontractors to ensure that the subcontractor remains licensed to avoid any breach of the QBCC Act.
These increased penalties could have significant impacts on contractors if they are not fully abreast of their obligations in relation to the new and existing offences under the QBCC Act.
If you have any questions about how these changes might affect you then please contact us.
Author: Sarah Shirley & Suzy Cairney
Troy Lewis, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0614
Stephen Burton, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0604
Suzy Cairney, Partner
T: T: +61 7 3135 0684