There are numerous reasons why it would be sensible for there to be a single security of payment regime operating throughout Australia. That was the recommendation of the Society of Construction Law Australia in 2014. It was the recommendation of the Murray Review in 2017. In particular, the legislation is complex. The New South Wales Act, for example, is 16,011 words long. The Queensland Act is even worse – much worse – at 52,629 words. It is absurd that parties and their lawyers – subject to very short timescales – have to navigate not only these complex regimes, but if they practice interstate, also to navigate intricate differences State by State.
One of these differences is in relation to the requirement which appears in all the legislation: that when a party makes an adjudication application, a copy of that adjudication application must be served on the respondent. Section 18(5) of the Victorian Act, for example, provides as follows:
A copy of an adjudication application must be served on the respondent concerned.
Section 21(5) of the Queensland Act is in the same terms. But these same words mean different things in those States.
The provision does not say who has to do the serving. In practice, it is the claimant, or the claimant’s lawyers. Nor does it say when it has to be served. Nor does it spell out the consequence if it is served later than it should have been served.
The issue arose in Queensland in Continue reading