PLANS for a challenge to Queensland community-title legislation are moving into high gear with the lawyer spearheading the class action set to brief a Queens Counsel. Anthony Delaney, of Anthony Delaney Lawyers, said yesterday he was finalising the brief and intended to hand it to Brisbane barrister Brian O’Donnell QC later this week.
Anthony Delaney, of Anthony Delaney Lawyers, said yesterday he was finalising the brief and intended to hand it to Brisbane barrister Brian O’Donnell QC later this week. He said he was confident that within days the challenge would have the support of 200 people, the minimum needed to pursue a class action. “Some 180 unit owners have committed to funding the challenge, and every day last week a number of people became parties to the action,” Mr Delaney said. “Owners of group-title properties from Noosa to Coolangatta are joining the action.” Parties to the class action contribute $250 each towards the cost of obtaining the barrister’s opinion.
Mr Delaney said many lawyers considered the Act breached principles of natural justice, a view shared by the Queensland Law Society. “If the barrister’s opinion supports that view, we expect the Government to enter into discussions, obviating the need to launch a class action,” he said. The challenge relates to the Body Corporate and Community Management and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2010, which has caused body corporate fees of many unit-dwellers to skyrocket.
It replaces earlier law enabling judges to determine fair and equitable body corporate fees and allows an owner to place a motion before the body corporate committee calling for a reversion to charges set by a building’s developer. Also, in general it denies other owners the right to oppose the move.
Mr Delaney said the Act aimed to ensure a fair system for apportioning costs and overcoming loopholes that saw owners of high-value units apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to obtain cuts in body corporate charges.
However, Mr Delaney said lack of avenue for appeal ensured it had not worked out that way. “To overcome any inequity in group-title schemes put in place by developers, laws were introduced in 1997 allowing owners to challenge the charges and enabling judges, specialist adjudicators and QCAT to revise them on grounds of fairness,” he said. “After its introduction, there were many rulings to ensure levies were fair and equitable. “The present legislation ignores those decisions.”
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