Erasmus Lovell-Jones has analysed the decision of Buttie v Ahmed & Bhulu [2016] NSWCATAP 85:

Significance

An applicant bears the evidentiary burden of proving the quantum of its claim even where a defendant fails to demonstrate a defence, or an arguable case, to resist the claim.

Facts

The appellant, Buttie (contractor) agreed to carry out landscaping works for Ahmed and Bhulu (owners). The contractor received full payment for the works but completed only part of the works. The Civil and Administrative Tribunal of New South Wales (Tribunal) ordered the contractor to complete the works. The contractor did not comply with the work order and the owners renewed their application.

The contractor requested an adjournment on the basis that he was ill. The adjournment application was refused as the contractor provided no evidence in support of his illness and had failed to comply with the Tribunal's previous orders and directions. The Tribunal ordered the contractor to pay the owners the sum claimed in their renewed application of $21,971.83.

The contractor appealed the Tribunal's decision.

Decision

The Appeal Panel of the Tribunal allowed the contractor's appeal and ordered the entire matter be reconsidered by the Tribunal constituted by different members from those who heard the first application.

The Appeal Panel held that, notwithstanding that the contractor had failed to demonstrate a defence to the owners' claim, the owners bore the evidentiary burden of proving the quantum of its claim (which they had failed to do). The Tribunal needed to address the question of proof of quantum and had erred in law in failing to do so.

The Appeal Panel held that it was open to the Tribunal to refuse the contractor's adjournment application for the reasons given. No error was shown in the Tribunal's decision on this point.