2017 Code of Conduct – What it means for Body Repairers

The last external review of the Motor Vehicle Insurance and Repair Industry Code of Conduct held in 2013 called for the establishment of an arbitration process in relation to a dispute in circumstances related to the Code. The Code Administration Committee (CAC) included in the revised 2016 Code, wording that stated – “The CAC shall establish an Approved Arbitration Scheme for the resolution of matters under the Code.”

It has taken a long time to achieve, but the Code will now have a dispute resolution process that can be accessed if mediation fails to resolve the dispute. Rather than Arbitration, which was found to be too legalistic and expensive, the CAC have agreed on Expert Determination. The process involves written submissions being considered by an independent expert who has knowledge of the repair industry. The result of expert determination will be published on the Code website with identifiers of the applicant and respondent removed.

This is a great opportunity for repairers who, for the last 10 years, have only been able to attend mediation which usually did not resolve the dispute. Commencing on May 1st 2017, the revised Code will be closely watched to see how the changes impact the repair industry. The Motor Traders’ Association of NSW (MTA NSW) envisage the playing field will become a little more level as a consequence of the changes, with the future looking bright for repairers who carry out quality repairs using fully itemised estimates, instead of working to a price dictated by insurers. For repairers who are prepared to cut corners in order to arrive at a suitable financial outcome, you have been warned.

This improvement would not have been possible without the involvement of the Office of NSW Small Business Commissioner who has seen the need for change to the way in which repairer – insurer relationships are conducted, and the bargaining positions of the parties are stark. In addition, a number of MTA NSW Members contacted their local member of NSW Parliament to lobby for change, a good reminder that Macquarie Street is watching how small businesses in the repair industry fair. It should be noted that all political parties supported the need for change and there is still work to be done to ensure a more professional, consumer focused repair industry evolves.

For further information, please contact Graham Judge, Senior Manager – Divisional Services at MTA NSW on 0438 213 420 or graham.judge@mtansw.com.au