The TV reality show Judge Judy and its imitators are based on a fairly simple premise – two parties with seemingly intractable problems face each other in front of a no-nonsense adjudicator who applies several decades of judicial experience and a searing level of sarcasm to their relatively mundane disputes.
The appeal to participants is pretty obvious, especially to those who believe themselves to be absolutely right, morally if not always strictly legally. Common sense, they think, will prevail.
In what are often “he said, she said” conflicts, both parties are usually equally convinced that, a few caustic barbs aside, the reality ref will blow the whistle in their favour, awarding them a less-than-princely sum and a sense of vindication.
If I had a dollar for every time someone has suggested that strata disagreements would be a fertile ground for a Judge Judy type show I would have … well, enough for a smashed avocado on toast, anyway.
Now, there’s a chance to put that theory to the test. TV production company Screentime is looking for potential victims – sorry, combatants – for a similar reality show that they are planning to make.
The details are vague, but there will be guaranteed appearance fees for those who are happy to air their dirty linen on national TV.
Speaking of which, I would think the disputes are more likely to be over issues like compensation for clothes ruined when someone dumped them on the ground because they were drying on a communal line on a day that was allocated to someone else.
Or someone’s neighbour’s monster ute is so big they can’t open their car door when he parks next to them, so he should park it in the street.
What you won’t get is legal interpretations of by-laws or adjudications on the forced sales of apartments or even rulings on the amount of noise transmitted by a timber floor.
More likely it will be disagreements over how often a neighbour should be allowed to barbecue smelly sausages on their balcony.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that in a previous life I was a TV writer and I created Screentime’s first drama series, Breakers. They have gone on to much greater things, like the Underbelly TV series and the TV adaptation of Tim Winton’s Cloud Street.
But I can’t vouch for this show, except to say, it may well be more satisfying than trudging through the maze of Fair Trading and NCAT only to get a ruling from someone who neither knows nor cares what strata law says.
Even better, the appearance fees mean you can’t lose completely. I would imagine the show’s scope will go way beyond strata, so any other disputes you have could be fodder for its TV trials.
If you are interested, don’t write to us but email Screentime on firstname.lastname@example.org, and mention where you heard about the show.
Meanwhile I wonder how many of the kind of issues that pop up every day on the Flat Chat Forum would make good viewing. Here’s the latest from a busy week:
- Do we need to provide a personal tax file number when we register for GST? That’s HERE.
- Rental agents trying to cheat tenants out of their bonds? Surely not! That’s HERE.
- Can the owners corp hold a second General meeting to overturn a decision made at a previous one? That’s HERE.
- Why do I need permission to build a wall inside my unit creating a extra bedroom? That’s HERE.
- Who’s responsible for noisy floorboards and inadequate insulation in an old ground-floor unit? That’s HERE.
This is just a sample of the latest questions, answers and comments on the Flat Chat Forum. Check in regularly to find out what’s really happening in the world of strata.