{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research and forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports and data Inspiring Australia's building professionals HOUSING The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder and manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies and tool insurance Planning and safety services Building and planning services How can HIA Safety help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan HR Docs Trusted legal support Legal advice and guidance Professional services Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials and products Concrete, bricks and walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Hear what our apprentices say Advice for parents and guardians Study with us Find a course Get your builder's licence Learn with HIA
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Mates rates What we do Mental health program Charitable Foundation GreenSmart
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Australian Housing Awards Awards program National Conference Industry networking Events
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping and delivery Purchasing terms & conditions Products Building codes and standards Hard copy contracts Guides and manuals Safety and signage See all
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Building and planning dispute resolution

Use this information as a guide to resolving building disputes between builders/contactors and owners in the ACT. It outlines the steps to follow in HIA building contracts as well as what’s involved with the court and hearing process.

Resolving business disputes 

It is recommended that you enter into a contract for residential building work. These contracts generally outline steps to be taken in the event of a dispute. For example, the HIA ACT Residential Building Contract for Alterations and Additions states that: 

Disputes must be resolved according to Territory laws that govern the resolution of building disputes. The owner and the builder must meet within 7 days to discuss the matters and attempt to resolve them by negotiating, mediation or other agreed method.

Where disputes continue beyond the scope of the contract (i.e. the builder and owner cannot reach a negotiated agreement), then legal action may follow. 

 The court process 

Most building disputes in the ACT that cannot be resolved between the parties end up in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). The ACAT can hear and determine a civil dispute relating to an amount of $10,000 or less. It provides a forum for the determination of a wide range of civil disputes, including disputes between builder and owner and builder and subcontractor. There is also a rapid adjudication process through security of payment laws that can be used for disputes between builders and contractors from 1 July 2010. 

An application would need to be lodged under the general civil provision. Forms can be obtained from the ACAT website. A fee will be charged for lodging an application. 

Note: Claims above $10,000 but under $50 000 proceed through the Magistrates Court. 

ACAT hearings 

A matter will usually be heard at a ‘hearing’ in front of an ACAT member. Each party will be given the opportunity to state their case. Depending on the circumstances you may also call witnesses to give evidence. The tribunal members will encourage both parties to discuss the dispute and may suggest ways in which it might be settled. If an agreement is not reached, the Tribunal will make a decision. Both agreements and decisions are binding and can be enforced in the same way as an order of the Court. 

Making an application

When making an application it is important to remember: 

  • Try to resolve the issue before the hearing date. This can be achieved through mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. If you reach an agreement after the application is lodged let the tribunal know 
  • Make sure you are well prepared for your hearing. Prepare a statement in writing and plan when and where to call witnesses or introduce evidence. Ensure you have enough copies of evidence to go around for everyone 
  • Keep all evidence relevant to your claim, including letters, faxes, emails, bills. photos or quotes for repairs 
  • Ensure the details on your application and particularly the respondent’s name and address are correct
  • Seek further legal advice where the circumstances require that you have legal representation. 

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

Email us

Share with your network:

More articles on:

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
Find guides, how-tos, resources and more

Managing your business


Can’t find what you need, check out other resources that might be closer to the mark.

Explore resources

Business support


Supporting building professionals with custom built services and products.

  • Legal support
  • Contracts Online
  • Host an apprentice
  • Insurance services
  • Managing safety

Explore Business support