UNCOLLECTED VEHICLES

A customer’s failure to collect a vehicle after an assessment or service can be a hinderance to the business and take up valuable space

What options are there for the business in such a situation?
The business may take steps to dispose of the vehicle under the uncollected goods legislative regime of the State or Territory in which the business is located. It is important to follow each of the required steps of the relevant uncollected goods regime to ensure the vehicle is lawfully disposed of.
Some uncollected goods legislative regimes have recently been modernised or are undergoing review to create efficiencies in the disposal of uncollected goods process.
For example, New South Wales has recently updated its legislative regime and streamlined the process. It is hoped that some of the more complex uncollected goods legislative regimes will similarly be reviewed and modernised to assist businesses operate with efficiency.
Importantly, this article provides general information and a general overview only of disposing of uncollected vehicles. If your business has an uncollected vehicle at its premises, contact us to find out about the process that is relevant for the State or Territory in which the business with the uncollected vehicle is located.

Value of the vehicle
Each legislative regime contains different processes depending on the value of the vehicle. For this reason, other than for Queensland, the first step is to obtain, or make, an independent assessment of the value of the vehicle before starting the process to dispose of the uncollected vehicle.

Notice
Generally, the process of each legislative regime commences with the business providing notice to the customer that the vehicle is ready for collection (together with other specified information). We recommend that the business obtain the home address, email address and contact phone number of each customer as part of the process of providing a service for a customer. This is important because, with some exceptions, most current legislative regimes require notice to be posted to, or left at the address of, the customer. Having the customer’s address makes it easy for the business to start the process of disposing of the vehicle.

After notice is provided
The process after notice is provided varies between the State and Territory regimes and can depend on the value of the vehicle. In some legislative regimes low value vehicles need only be retained for a short time (as specified in the legislation) before disposal, other regimes and processes require further notices, newspaper advertising, Government Gazette advertising and/or tribunal or court applications to be made before the vehicle is disposed of.

Special requirements for vehicles
Most legislative regimes also require additional steps to be taken for all vehicles or vehicles of a particular value. Such steps may include seeking a certificate that a vehicle is not stolen from, and/or providing notice to, the Commissioner of Police, and/or obtaining a written search of the Personal Property Security Register. It is important to ensure that the requirements of the State or Territory in which the vehicle is located are complied with.

Other considerations

  • If there is a dispute regarding the charges in respect of the vehicle, or the customer is refusing to pay the business for other reasons, then it is very likely the uncollected goods legislative regime will not be appropriate to address the circumstance (please contact us for further information).
  • In the majority of circumstances, the vehicle may only be disposed of by public auction.
  • Generally, the business will be able to retain outstanding amounts, reasonable storage (from the date the notice is sent) and the expenses of the business in relation to the sale of the vehicle. It is important to check the relevant legislative regime to ensure the business is only retaining what is allowed under the relevant legislation.
  • If the amount of the proceeds of sale remaining after the charges of the business are deducted cannot be returned to the customer, it must be deposited with the authority specified in the legislative regime.
  • Generally, record keeping of particular information is required under the legislative regimes, additionally, we recommend the business keep detailed records of the disposal of the vehicle.
  • Some legislative regimes have other specific requirements, for example, Queensland requires businesses to display a sign in respect of the uncollected goods regime at the place of business.

Information and legislative changes
If you have any questions regarding the uncollected goods regime in your State or Territory, please contact us. Alternatively, if you have previously received an uncollected goods fact sheet from us and wish to refer to the fact sheet to dispose of another uncollected vehicle left at the premises of your business please contact us first to check for any legislative changes to the uncollected goods regime in your State or Territory. If there are legislative changes, we can provide you with an updated fact sheet.

Takeaways
The key takeaways if there is an uncollected vehicle at your business premises are:

  • contact us to discuss the situation, to obtain a fact sheet/information relevant for your State or Territory, and/or check for legislative changes;
  • make sure you use the correct disposal process;
  • obtain the home address of your customers for each service.

This document is intended for general information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Please contact Industry Legal Group if you require legal advice

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Industry Legal Group provides advice to members on commercial law matters.
If you have any questions relating to the above information, please contact
Industry Legal Group on 1300 369 703 or aaaa@industrylegalgroup.com.au