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We need a clear cladding policy – now!
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Authority has no cladding powers

05 Feb 2018

By Shane Scanlan

Owners affected by non-compliant flammable cladding are going to have to take direct legal action against parties they believe responsible, following a Supreme Court decision.

On December 22, Justice Cavanough ruled that the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), did not have the power to order builder LU Simon to rectify works on six Melbourne towers.

Justice Cavanough found that building surveyors and the VBA could not make such demands after an occupancy certificate had been granted.

He said the law did not provide “power to require builders (and even former builders), alone, to rectify alleged defects of whatever kind, in buildings of whatever kind, years or decades after the buildings have been completed and certificates of final inspection or occupancy permits have been issued for them.”

On December 1, the government released an interim report from its cladding taskforce. And, while the number of affected buildings soars, the taskforce is yet to examine where liability lies and, therefore, where the cost is to be borne.

In Docklands, LU Simon is locked in a legal battle with the owners of the Lacrosse Building in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The case is not due to be heard again until September. But, in the interim, the builder has agreed to start work and fund the replacement of cladding on the understanding that it will be reimbursed if it found not to be liable. With a Supreme Court ruling in its favour, it would be feeling very confident in VCAT.

In the Cavanough judgement, his honour makes the point a number of times that building surveyors had signed off the six buildings that the VBA had attempted to get LU Simon to “fix”.

Perhaps the VCAT case will shed some light on who is actually responsible for the cost of replacing cladding on at least 1400 buildings in Victoria.

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