Building contract solicitor

Do I have to provide an itemised bill?

You finished a job and provided the homeowner with an invoice that is in accordance with your quote, the homeowner responds by asking you for an itemised bill. Can they do that? Well if the work is for personal, domestic or household use and the amount is under $40,000.00, take it from a building contract solicitor, the simple answer is, yes they can.

Section 101 of the Australian Consumer Law (“the ACL”) allows for a consumer to request an itemised bill from a supplier who has supplied them goods or services. The itemised bill must contain the following information:

1. It must specify how the price of the services was calculated;

2. It must include, if applicable, the number of hours labour that related the supply of the good or services and the hourly rate for that labour; and

3. It must include, if applicable, a list of the materials used to supply the services and the amount charged for those materials.

The request by the consumer has to be made within 30 days of the date the goods or service were provided or the date of the invoice, whichever is the later. The itemised bill has to be provided by the supplier within seven days of a request, the supplier is not able to charge for the itemised bill and the itemised bill must be transparent. That is it must be set out clearly, concisely and in a format that the consumer is able to understand.

The ACL defines a consumer as a person who has acquired goods or services if and only if:

1. The cost of the goods or services do not exceed $40,000.00 unless a greater amount is prescribed for the purposes of that paragraph of the ACL, then that greater amount;

2. The goods or services were acquired for personal, domestic or household use; and

3. The goods or services were not acquired for the purpose of resale or use in trade or commence

When considering the operation of s101 of the ACL it is important to note that its application is only to consumers as defined by the ACL. It does not apply to any business to business contracts.

Section 101 does not contemplate the situation were a quote has been given and an invoice is provided in accordance with that quote. If the value of the goods and services is less than $40,000.00 and the work is for a domestic or household purpose; then upon the request of the consumer, the supplier is required to provide an itemised bill. Having previously provided a quote for the work does not remove the supplier’s obligations under s101. The bill must include all the details and information that is required by the ACL and be provided in the legislated time frame.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the ACL can result in a pecuniary penalty. Section 224 of the ACL sets out the penalties that can be applied if a supplier is found to have failed comply with the ACL. In the case of failure to comply with s101 the penalties are $15,000.00 for corporations or $3,000.00 for individuals.

Contact Becker Watt Lawyers for all building and construction related legal matter. For more information call 07 3269 4888 or contact us on info@beckerwatt.com.au.

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