‘Lemon laws’ – when consumers are given lemons, can the government make them into lemonade?

By Ben Ryan, Lawyer at Hillhouse Legal Partners
| 2 min. read

Key takeaways

  • New laws in Queensland will increase consumer protection when buying used vehicles and make it easier for disputes to be resolved in the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)
  • New laws came into effect on September 1, 2019
  • Though these changes are significnat there are defect exceptions which won’t be covered

Buying a used car and finding out that it is an absolute lemon leaves a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.

So, are the new ‘lemon laws’ enough to turn lemons into lemonade or is this a patch fix that will only lead to increased pressures on an already stretched system?

The new laws introduced by the Queensland Government came into effect on September 1, 2019 with a focus on increasing consumer protection and confidence when buying used vehicles and making it easier for disputes to be resolved in the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Under the new laws, consumers will be afforded with a new ‘Class B’ statutory warranty under the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act, which will essentially provide consumers with:

  1. A one month/ 1,000km warranty term; and
  2. Recitifcation of certain defects free of charge.

These changes are a significant benefit to consumers but will likely come at a significant cost to dealerships who will now have increased liability and exposure on their sales.

Though the new laws are significant, there are exceptions to the defect list that will not be covered. This undoubtedly will leave many consumers bitter if careful consideration is not given at the time of buying their next vehicle.

In order to address an anticipated increased case load, QCAT’s jurisdiction to determine claims about motor vehicles will increase from $25,000 to $100,000 with a new motor vehicle list also being introduced within QCAT’s civil disputes jurisdiction.

While these new laws will go a long way in protecting consumers, it is likely that both consumers and dealerships will be left with a sour taste in their mouth until these new laws can be put to the test and any dings beaten out. Stay tuned.

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.