Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (order)

VCAT can hear and decide disputes between certain parties under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 and make orders. In most cases the Small Business Commissioner must first provide a certificate.

This page provides general information and should not be considered as legal advice. Seek legal advice if you are unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

Cases we can hear

You must have a dispute within the meaning of the Act.

We can hear disputes between one or more contractors and one or more hirers which arises out of, or in relation, to the Act, or out of a code of practice or a regulated contract.

'Contractor' includes owner drivers, haulage contractors, and harvesting contractors.

'Hirer' means a person who engages a contractor under one or more regulated contracts.

'Contractors' and 'hirers' includes former contractors and hirers.

Except in the case of an application for an injunction, VCAT cannot accept an application unless the Small Business Commissioner has first certified in writing that alternative dispute resolution has failed or is unlikely to resolve the dispute.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

Section 41 of the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005

Time limits

If your application involves an allegation of unlawful termination of the engagement of a contractor, you must file your application within 12 months of the date on which the engagement is alleged to have been terminated.

In any other case, your application to VCAT must be made within six years of the date on which the dispute arose.

Documents you need to apply

You must have a certificate from the Small Business Commissioner.

What can VCAT order?

VCAT can make one or more of these orders in relation to a dispute:

  • refer the dispute to a mediator
  • order the payment of money found to owing or by way of damages (including exemplary damages and interest)
  • order the refund of money
  • make an order by way of specific performance
  • declare that a debt is or is not owing
  • order a party to do or refrain from doing something
  • make any other orders it considers fair including declaring void an unjust term and varying a regulated contract to avoid injustice
  • any other orders it considers just.

Section 44(2) sets out the matters VCAT may have regard to in determining whether a term of a regulated contract is unjust.

Failure to give an information booklet or rates and costs schedule

Section 45 sets out additional powers where a hirer or freight broker has failed to give a contractor an information booklet or a copy of a rates and costs schedule in accordance with Division 1 or 2 of Part 2.

Despite any provision in the relevant regulated contract, VCAT may make an order that the contractor is to be paid an amount, specified by the Tribunal, for the contractor’s services under the contract.

Prohibition orders

Under section 46, VCAT may make any further orders it considers appropriate prohibiting a relevant person from entering into regulated contracts or from other related conduct.

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you wish to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission. Be aware that government bodies in most cases uses legal representation.

Find legal services that may be able to assist you.

Need help with your application?

We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.

We cannot give you legal advice. This means we cannot tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.

Seek legal help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality.