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VCAT decision on DBDRV and the 10 year limitation period

November 19, 2019

Since the establishment of Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) there has been some uncertainty about whether lodging a dispute with DBDRV within the ten year limitation period was sufficient to preserve the right to sue. Many people, including the author, were of the view that lodging a dispute with DBDRV would not be sufficient as this would not be a building action. Instead, the person wishing to preserve their rights would have to commence legal proceedings in VCAT or in a court. 

It is understood that the usual DBDRV practice when the limitation period is looming has been to issue a certificate of conciliation quickly so that the right to use is not lost. This is a sensible course of action though it would be nice if the DBDRV was as quick to issue certificates for other matters where mandatory conciliation is unlikely to be useful.

Thanks however, to a case where the owners lawyers and the DBDRV seem to have not been too troubled about the ten year limitation period or delays in the initial DBDRV processing of the dispute referral we now have a VCAT decision on this point. The answer is that lodging a dispute with DBDRV is not sufficient and instead it is necessary to commence legal proceedings in VCAT or a court. This case also highlighted concerns about the DBDRV dispute referral process. The main issue identified by VCAT was the lack of clarity about who is lodging the dispute and the difficulty of having multiple parties seeking to lodge the same dispute. This is particularly problematic when an owners corporation and lot owners want to lodge a dispute.

For further information, please call 1300 650 620 to speak with HIA Workplace Services.