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Construction Law News November 2010

Consequences of supplying non-compliant goods

Builders and subcontractors be aware of the suitability of the materials you use and supply for building projects – or the consequences can be far-reaching

There are various industry codes in Australia that establish standards required in use of certain materials. While each code may not have a penalty for breach a breach may be punishable by large fines for companies and individuals as set out under the Trade Practices Act 1974. However, the Trades Practices Act is not the only law that may concern those who use, supply or manufacture non-compliant materials. A knowing supply of non-compliant materials is a deliberate breach of the law as well as a negligent act. Under criminal codes, where negligence leads to a person’s death, there may be criminal charges of manslaughter. While it is not well established in all Australian jurisdictions that use of non-compliant materials will lead to criminal charges, it is possible that the law will adapt such that if a person suffers grievous bodily harm a sentence of up to two years imprisonment would be available for those responsible. This would apply to both the individual and corporations supplying the materials with criminal liability resting on those with knowledge that materials supplied were non-compliant. The risk of criminal charges is just another reason to comply with material standards.

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