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To appeal, or not, at a tribunal? Welcome the opinion of others on this legal-grey-area accident case, which concerns liability, negligence and risk within a strata building and its common property, although it’s rather a small deal as accidents go: only $400 in damage.
The accident occurred in our big strata apartment building in Brisbane when an unusually tall luggage trolley brought down a ceiling light, an exit light, which was common property, from an unusually low corridor ceiling (touch it with your hand), when being used by an owner occupier, newly arrived and naive to the building.
The trolley height has since been reduced but the building manager (BM), which owned the trolley and provided it for general use, and body corporate (BC) Committee billed the occupier for the damage repair. We asked the state tribunal, QCAT, whether the BM or BC should have to pay for it, having provided the trolley with no warning of danger.
The tribunal “adjudicator” backed the BM and BC, without giving reasons in law, but apparently on a user-beware or “obvious risk” basis. We’re thinking of appealing to clarify further the liability, given many strata buildings, like this one concerned, have a hotel operation in them.
The tribunal ruling could be justified by “obvious risk”, part of the state’s Civil Liability Act. However the risk was obviously not so obvious, apparently even to the BM. Also risk is a matter of perception … who would have expected such an accident?
There could have been serious injury given the weight of the light fitting. The present ruling leaves BMs pretty much free of obligation regarding their assets except for maintenance (it would have been different if a wheel had spun off, causing the accident). It doesn’t cost much to appeal.
The tribunal ruling by an adjudicator seemed at the level of an “ask a passer-by what they think” way of settling an argument, but nevertheless is the word of a tribunal to the strata community as it stands.
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