What to do when your Building Practitioner’s Licence has been Suspended
By Lovegrove & Cotton – Construction and Planning Lawyers
When a Registered Building Practitioner (RBP) receives a notice from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) that he or she has had their building practitioner licence suspended or cancelled, the RBP will need to act immediately as there is a 28 day appeal time period under Section 185 of the Building Act 1993 (VIC).
In most circumstances, the RBP has a right, upon receipt of the notice of suspension or notice of cancellation of their building practitioner licence, to have the decision reviewed by way of:-
• Internal review through the VBA; and/or
• Appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
If the RBP is a “directly affected person” under the act, the RBP will have 28 days to file the application for internal review with the VBA and 14 days after the end of the internal review period to file a review with the VCAT (Section 186(4)(a)). If the person wishes to directly apply to VCAT and not apply for internal review, they have 28 days from the date of the reviewable decision to apply to VCAT (Section 186(4)(b)). Accordingly, one must act quickly and the RBP’s suspension will not be lifted during the review period. Accordingly, the RBP should be aware that he or she cannot undertake building works pursuant to the suspended registration during this time.
Further, if the notice of suspension was determined by the Chief Commissioner or CEO of the VBA then the only review opportunity of the RBP is to apply to the VCAT; the internal review option will not be available.
An RBP who has received a notice of suspension or notice of cancellation of their building practitioner licence from the VBA would be well advised to engage a construction law expert experienced with practitioner misconduct advocacy. The requisite appeal instrument will need to be very carefully drafted as it needs to include all the relevant information for the VBA to review the reviewable decision. Legal representation is permitted for the RBP whether he or she elects to give written or oral submissions for the review.
By virtue of the fact that the suspension of a building practitioner’s registration can destroy that individual’s reputation and livelihood and potentially generate a litany of contractual repudiations, it is critical that the building practitioner deploy a construction law and practitioner law advocate immediately and close and careful regard must be had to the statutory review time limits. Note that once a registered building practitioner is suspended then he or she will in all likelihood be unable to complete any residential building contracts that may be on foot particularly in circumstances where the building practitioner is the RBP registered with a company. To say that the consequences of suspension are dire would be an understatement.
Lovegrove & Cotton: Leaders in building practitioner representation
Lovegrove & Cotton are experts in construction law and building practitioner representation in Melbourne, Sydney, the ACT and Queensland. Kim Lovegrove RML, FAIB is co-author of leading text, “Disciplinary Hearings and Advocacy”. Justin Cotton has represented building practitioners and building surveyors successfully for over fifteen years and has established leading precedence in a number of Australian tribunals. If the reader knows of anybody who needs legal representation in this complex and gravity-laden area, feel free to contact us via our website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.