Adjudicators to payment disputes will be appointed by the recently created industry regulator and different timeframes will be allowed for responses to payment claims under new changes to payment dispute procedures within the building industry unveiled by the Queensland government last week.

Outlining the changes to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act (BCIPA) on April 9, Minister for Housing and Public Works Tim Mander said the new regulations would ensure a fairer system and promote confidence in the industry.

He pointed out that the changes were the result of extensive consultation following a review of the Act undertaken by industry barrister Andrew Wallace.

Under the changes, adjudicators for disputes will be chosen by the recently created Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), which will maintain a public register of adjudicators with information on their skills, experience, expertise and availability.

The changes will also:

  • Require adjudicators to undergo continuing professional development.
  • Reduce the time frame in which a claim for payment can be made from 12 months to six months (unless the contract specifies longer).
  • Offer more time for payers to respond to large and complex claims (over $750,000). Respondents for claims above this amount will have 15 business days to provide a payment schedule (up from 10) and also to provide an adjudication response (up from five business days). Respondents to smaller claims will now have 10 business days to provide adjudication responses (up from five).

Mander said the reforms build on existing measures to help reduce the compliance burden on the industry, which contributes $26 billion annually to the Queensland economy.

He said the current system, where claimants approached an authorised nominating authority who would appoint an adjudicator on their behalf, created perceptions about conflicts of interest, while existing rules specifying similar response time frames irrespective of the size or complexity of payment claims makes little sense.

“In the past a one size fits all approach meant the same timeframes applied whether the dispute was over $500 or $5 million,” Mander said. “These changes will continue to restore confidence in the sector, confidence that was severely tested by a former Labor government that wanted to tie the industry up in red tape.”

The proposed changes will be introduced into parliament by mid-year and are expected to come into effect in late 2014.