New 'Lemon' Laws to protect buyers with defective motor vehicles

      By Steven Tapiolas 

      On 1 September 2019, the Queensland Government introduced new laws which make it easier for consumers to pursue claims against motor vehicle dealers and manufacturers for defective cars, motorcycles and caravans.

      Consumers have always enjoyed the protection of consumer guarantees and warranties under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and statutory warranties for certain used cars under the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014 (MDCA).

      However, access to the protections and remedies were somewhat restricted as the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) only had jurisdiction to hear disputes where the vehicle purchase price was $25,000 or less. This meant that all other consumers had to commence court proceedings, which is a more complicated and costly process.


      Fortunately, the new ‘lemon’ laws (the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld)) address this and other issues by:

      1. Lifting the monetary jurisdiction of QCAT to $100,000 in relation to:
        1. Disputes under the ACL consumer guarantees for new and used vehicles; and
        2. Disputes under the MDCA statutory warranties for used cars;
      2.  Extending the MDCA statutory warranties to used cars that have done more than 160,000km or are more than 10 years old.

      The new laws, which were passed on 3 April 2019 and came into effect on 1 September 2019, give greater protection to purchasers of used cars and provide greater access to cheaper, easier and quicker dispute resolution processes through QCAT proceedings.

      However, buyers beware - very little can be done when a lemon is bought in a private sale between two individuals.

      If you have recently purchased a defective vehicle and want to discuss how the new laws may affect you, please contact our commercial litigation team.


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