Have you been refused a contractor licence?

In the case of Bannister v Department of Finance and Services [2011] NSWADT 290, Mr Bannister had held a builders licence for 31 years and by oversight, he failed to renew the licence. Accordingly, the following year Mr Bannister applied for an individual contractor licence which was refused by the Department of Services, Technology and Administration (the Department) on grounds that Mr Bannister is not a fit and proper person. Mr Bannister appealed the decision to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT).

By way of background, Mr Bannister was the director of a group of companies (the Bannister group of companies) which had encountered financial difficulties in 2008 and accordingly, Mr Bannister appointed liquidators which subsequently resulted in various insurance claims against the companies for incomplete work. Mr Bannister had also entered into a personal insolvency agreement (PIA) with the receiver and was disqualified from being a director of a company pursuant to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). On 2 December 2010, Mr Bannister was discharged by the trustee from his debts and had satisfied his obligations pursuant to the PIA.

When Mr Bannister completed his application for a contractor licence, Mr Bannister failed to disclose the abovementioned circumstances in Section 7 of the Application Form –Individual –Contractor Licence (the Form) which asks various questions about an applicant’s financial history and whether the individual had ever been a director of a company which was subject to a winding up order or similar. In light of Mr Bannister’s failure to complete Section 7 of the Form correctly, a decision was made that Mr Bannister was not a fit and proper person in accordance with s 20(1)(a) of the Home Building Regulation 2004 (the Regulation). On appeal, it was held by the ADT that in determining whether an applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a contractor licence, the Director-General is to consider whether the applicant is of good repute, having regard to character, honesty and integrity.

After an in depth finding of facts, the ADT was satisfied that the evidence indicated that Mr Bannister was a fit and proper person to hold a contractor licence as:

  • he had previously performed building tasks with skill;
  • before becoming a director of the Bannister group of companies, there were no complaints or insurance claims against his individual contractor licence; and
  • he demonstrated that he was of good repute and had skill in performing the role of builder, project and budget manager.

Accordingly, the ADT set aside the decision made by the Department and ordered Mr Bannister to be granted a contractor licence. This case demonstrates that although an individual may have been a director of a group of companies which went into liquidation, it was still not sufficient evidence to support a finding that the individual was not a fit and proper person so as to refuse the granting of an individual contractor licence.

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This article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. All articles found on this website are intended to provide informative information, nevertheless, in many instances legislation and case law has been simplified and/or paraphrased. If you would like personal legal advice based on your current circumstances, you should contact MurdockCheng Legal Practice for a free consultation.