Dispute Resolution

Unexpected Demand for Victoria’s Dispute Resolution Body

Master Builders Victoria (MBAV) has observed that Victoria’s new Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) has received more than 5200 applications since it was launched in April 2017, far exceeding the initial 3500 expected.

The demand highlights the gap the body has filled in enabling swift, fair and clear resolution of building disputes in the state.

DBDRV’s Chief Dispute Resolution Officer, Gina Ralston, updated builders on the organisation’s progress at a Master Builders Trade Night early in 2018.

Ms Ralston said 2530 matters had been closed, 1320 matters have been assessed and are in the conciliation process, and a further 696 matters assessed and in queue for allocation.

“There is clearly an unmet demand for the dispute resolution in the domestic building sector,” said Ms Ralston.

“Urgent matters are being fast tracked and initial screening of applications is occurring within four weeks, and the average length of an active case is 8.5 calendar weeks.”

Of all the applications assessed to date, 82 per cent have been within DBDRV jurisdiction. Building owners have made up the vast majority of initiating parties at 82 per cent, nine per cent have been representatives and the final seven per cent being builders themselves.

The main dispute matters being assessed include defective building work (50 per cent), followed by incomplete work, access to works on site, delays in work and variations to building contracts (including failure to pay).

Ms Ralston said a number of measures had been implemented to address the high rate of applications.

“We are undertaking further recruitment, have engaged a panel of assessors and another of conciliators,” she said.

“Our website and processes have also been refined to minimise applications and resolution times.”

Ms Ralston listed the DBDRV priorities over the next six months including:

  • Reducing the queue
  • Strengthening the website and application form
  • Further improving case management
  • Aligning data collection
  • Further refining processes and,
  • Working closely with stakeholders and clients to understand their experience of DBDRV service.

MBAV’s CEO, Radley de Silva, said the DBDRV had been transparent and consultative in its first year of operation.

“Builders tell us that the DBDRV speed of service requires improvement so we are pleased Gina and her team are prioritising that,” said Mr de Silva.

“We will continue to monitor their progress and look forward to seeing how the body evolves over the next year to continue meeting the demand for domestic dispute resolution,” he added.

If any of your clients have a domestic building dispute, refer them to DBDRV at www.dbdrv.vic.gov.au.