Show cause process

The show cause notice is a procedure by which the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) “supervises and monitors the conduct and ability to practise of registered building practitioners” in Victoria.

All Victorian building practitioners and their PI insurers should be aware of new practitioner disciplinary processes recently introduced by the VBA, including the abolition of the Building Practitioners’ Board (BPB).

What has changed?

On 1 September 2016, the BPB’s functions were transferred to the VBA. The VBA is now tasked with administering all new disciplinary proceedings against registered building practitioners. A “registered building practitioner” means a registered building practitioner registered under Part 11 of the Building Act 1993 (Vic) (the Act).

The BPB will continue to manage inquiries commenced prior to 1 September 2016, but it will be abolished once these existing matters have been resolved.

A new show cause process is the biggest change. If the VBA conducts an investigation and forms a “reasonable belief” that it should take disciplinary action under the Act, it must issue a show cause notice. What constitutes “reasonable belief” is not defined, but it will involve the decision maker objectively assessing and considering all known circumstances at the time of making the decision.

The show cause notice will set out the relevant facts and circumstances, the ground(s) for any proposed action, and the type of disciplinary action the VBA proposes to take against the practitioner. Section 179(1) of the Act outlines the grounds for disciplinary action.

Practitioners who receive a show cause notice have 28 days to respond. The practitioner may either submit a written response, or attend in person to give an oral representation. Practitioners are entitled to seek legal assistance to help respond to the notice in writing, or to accompany them when providing an oral representation. An internal review process has been established to allow practitioners to seek the review of a VBA decision by a senior VBA decision maker.

In very limited circumstances, the VBA may immediately suspend or cancel a practitioner’s registration without providing a show cause notice. But if this occurs, the practitioner may appeal the VBA’s decision to VCAT.

Take away

All Victorian registered building practitioners should:

  • take note of the VBA’s new disciplinary process;
  • contact their professional indemnity insurer or legal representative if they receive a show cause notice or have their registration suspended or cancelled; and
  • be aware of their options for appealing a decision by the VBA, including internal review and applying to VCAT.

Time will tell whether the new the disciplinary regime in Victoria will lead to a more efficient and streamlined process.

For further information regarding the recent changes visit www.vba.vic.gov.au