Maddocks recently represented the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) in a significant Building Act prosecution. The accused were George Kotsiras (Kotsiras) and Gazon Enterprises Pty Ltd (Gazon).
In 2010, Gazon entered into contracts with building owners on three occasions to carry out domestic building work at sites in Bentleigh, Mooroolbark and McKinnon. In each instance the work was major domestic building work which should have been carried out under a major domestic building contract. The most significant project involved alterations to a home. The other projects involved construction of a 32 metre retaining wall and construction of a brick fence and gate.
Kotsiras is not a registered building practitioner. He was the sole director of Gazon.
Gazon and Kotsiras pleaded guilty on 5 May 2014 to the following charges:
- three charges of carrying out work not in accordance with the building permit or before the building permit had been issued, contrary to section 16 of the Act;
- three charges of carrying out work under a major domestic building contract when no director of Gazon was registered under the Act under the appropriate class of domestic builder, contrary to section 176(2A) of the Act;
- one charge of failing to notify the relevant building surveyor without delay after completion of a mandatory notification stage, contrary to section 33(1) of the Act;
- two charges of carrying out work under a major domestic building contract when not covered by the required insurance, contrary to section 136(2) of the Act; and
- one charge of knowingly providing false information to the relevant building surveyor, contrary to section 246 of the Act.
The false information which was the subject of the charge under section 246 of the Act was the understating of the contract price in the application for building permit for one of the projects. The price stated was $11,935 when in fact the true contract price was $18,300. Domestic building insurance was required for domestic building contracts with a contract price over $12,000.
Magistrate Goldsbrough, sitting in the Moorabbin Magistrates' Court, heard the plea and ordered Kotsiras to pay an aggregate fine of $40,000 and ordered Gazon to pay an aggregate fine of $25,000. This resulted in an overall fine of $65,000. Gazon was also ordered to pay $20,492.58 in respect of costs.
When sentencing Kotsiras, Magistrate Goldsbrough stated that she had taken into account his plea of guilty and some personal issues relating to his health and current lack of income. Her Honour considered that there was a high degree of general deterrence required in the case, but that the level of specific deterrence was moderated by his circumstances.
Magistrate Goldsbrough commented that, but for the pleas of guilty, she would have imposed a fine of $60,000 on Kotsiras and $50,000 on Gazon, because of the number of sites involved and the impact suffered by individual owners. Two of the building owners had suffered financial loss as a result of problems related to the building work carried out by Gazon. In one case the owner needed to demolish and remove the retaining wall which the owner had paid for in full.