Architects, builders, engineers and others in Victoria who specified or installed flammable cladding on high-rise buildings could be in the firing line after the government in that state promised to pursue ‘dodgy building practitioners’ who have been responsible for combustible cladding on buildings.

Introducing the Building Amendment (Cladding Rectification) Bill 2019 into Parliament, the government says the legislation includes a provision for the state to chase ‘wrongdoers’ through the courts in cases where the state has to pay for rectification costs.

The new legislation follows the government’s announcement in July that it would establish a $600 million fund to undertake a five-year program to rectify combustible cladding on high-rise buildings.

Around $300 million of that money will be raised by a new levy which will be applied to permits for multi-storey buildings whilst the state itself will pay for the remainder of the fund.

The government says any financial returns which are recovered through legal action will be reinvested back into the fund, which is being administered by Cladding Safety Victoria.

It stressed that the new law will not impede the ability of apartment owners to take their own legal action in respect of other building defects.

The new law follows the Lacrosse apartment judgement in February under which the fire engineer Thomas Nicholas, architects Elenberg Fraser, certifier Gardner Group and builder LU Simon were all ordered to share in immediate payments of $5.7 million to apartment owners along with what Judge Ted Woodward indicated would also be most of the balance of their $12.7 million claim.

In a statement, planning minister Richard Wynn says the government was funding rectification and pursuing dodgy practitioners to save owners the burden of doing this themselves.

“We’re saving owners the time, hassle and expense of chasing dodgy builders through the courts.”

“These apartment owners find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. They shouldn’t have to deal with the cost and stress that court action can mean – so we’re pursuing wrongdoers on their behalf.”