STP-18 State Administrative Tribunal
Version 1 – 04/01/2019
1 The State Administrative Tribunal (formerly section 20.1 of the practice manual)
The uniqueness of strata schemes, combined with the Australian culture of defined ownership, sometimes results in misunderstandings and consequential disputes between lot owners. The STA provides some relief in resolving these problems through the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) which has powers to resolve disputes (formerly adjudicated by the Strata Titles Referee).
The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) is located at Level 4, 12 St Georges Terrace, Perth. It may also be contacted online at www.sat.justice.wa.gov.auwhere eForm applications are available. As a guide to applications to SAT, its website also provides access to decisions made in strata related disputes. It may be beneficial for applicants to seek legal advice prior to making an application to SAT in order to gain a satisfactory outcome.
2 Applications to the State Administrative Tribunal (formerly section 20.2 of the practice manual)
Before making an application to the SAT an applicant must comply with any relevant dispute resolution procedures. The standard by-laws set out in Schedules 1 and 2 of the STA include provisions for the convening of, conduct of and voting at general and council meetings and the regulation of various activities.
By-laws in relation to procedures to be followed for the resolution of disputes as a prerequisite to the making of an application to the SAT may be adopted by a strata company or be set out in a management statement registered at the same time as the Strata Plan or Survey-Strata Plan.
The State Administrative Tribunal is only able to make orders if the STA (Enabling Act) gives the SAT power to do so. Even when the STA gives the SAT certain powers, the Act, in some instances, limits the Orders that the SAT can make, e.g. section 121 limits the SAT’s powers where the title to land is in question. An application to the SAT must set out:
- The section(s) of the Act under which the application is made.
- The terms of the Order sought.
- Reasons why it is thought the SAT is able to or should make the Order.
The SAT may request additional information and may make further enquiries and inspections. The SAT may dismiss an application if it is considered frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, or lacking in substance or if there is an unreasonable delay in compliance to a request for additional information.
Except in relation to an application for an Interim Order which is made in urgent circumstances, the applicant must serve a copy of the application to the Strata Company and every person and organisation named on the application. When the strata company receives that notice it must immediately serve a copy on:
- Each person who is a proprietor of a lot in the strata scheme.
- Any mortgagee of a lot who has given the strata company written notice of that mortgage.
- Each occupier of a lot who would be affected if the Order was made.
- Each person receiving a copy of the notice is entitled to make a written submission to the SAT in relation to the application.
3 Orders of the State Administrative Tribunal (formerly section 20.3 of the practice manual)
The SAT’s powers are set out in Part VI of the STA and in other parts of the STA (see section 47(2) and 47(2a)). These powers include a general power to make orders (section 83 (1)). SAT may also make an Interim Order (section 82) if satisfied, on reasonable grounds, by reason of the urgent circumstances of the matter.
A person or party affected by a SAT Order may appeal the decision only if granted leave to appeal by the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court itself. section 95 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 sets out the penalty for a person who fails to comply with an Order of the SAT.
Most applications are made under section 83(1) of the STA. Specific orders that the SAT can make (i.e. not made under section 83) include those related to:
- Insurance (sections 88, 101, 103J, 103K and 103L).
- By-laws (sections 93, 95, 97 and 100).
- Breaches of by-laws and payment of penalties (section 103I).
- Use of common property (sections 85 and 94).
- Personal property that is common property (sections 86 and 87).
- Buildings, structures and alterations (sections 103F and 103G).
- Strata company levies (sections 99 and 99A).
- Emergency expenditure (section 47(2)).
- Strata company meetings and resolutions (sections 97, 100, 103, 103B, 103C, 103D and 103M).
- Variation of unit entitlements (section 103H).
- Animals (sections 91 and 92).
- Contracts for service (section 103E).
- Various other orders may be made by SAT as set out in sections 89, 90, 98, 102, 103A and 103N-R.
Interim orders last for 3 months, or until the principal order is made; they can be renewed for a further 3 months.
4 Appeals (formerly section 20.4 of the practice manual)
State Administrative Tribunal decisions can be subject to appeal. Generally, appeals can be made on a question of law. The procedures set out in section 105 of The State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 allow an appeal to:
- the Court of Appeal (of the Supreme Court) if the decision was made by a tribunal that included a judicial member
- the Supreme Court in any other case.
The Court dealing with the appeal may:
- affirm, vary or set aside the decision of the Tribunal
- make any decision that the tribunal could have made in the proceeding
- send the matter back to the Tribunal for reconsideration, either with or without the hearing of further evidence, in accordance with any directions or recommendations that the Court considers appropriate;
The Court may make any order it considers appropriate.
For further information refer to the SAT website www.sat.justice.wa.gov.au.
5 Registration of an Order of the State Administrative Tribunal (formerly section 20.5 of the practice manual)
Orders made pursuant to Sections 93, 94, 99A, 100, 103A, 103H, 103J, 103P, 103Q and 103R of the STA must be registered at Landgate and they will take effect upon registration or at any later date specified in the order.
The SAT may also direct that any other order is required to be registered on the relevant Strata/Survey-Strata Plan.
Registration is achieved by producing a certified copy of the order attached to a TLA Form A5. A notation of the Order will be endorsed on the Strata/Survey-Strata Plan on the “Schedule of Encumbrances”.
6 Procedures in Relation to Retirement Villages (formerly section 20.6 of the practice manual)
Schemes affected by the Retirement Villages Act 1992 have an endorsement to that effect noted on the encumbrance schedule of the Strata/Survey-Strata Plan. Prior to the SAT Act number 54 of 2004 all Retirement Villages disputes were dealt with under section 77A of the STA and the Retirement Villages Dispute Tribunal, both of which were repealed by Act number 55 of 2004. All Retirement Villages dispute resolutions are now determined by SAT’s standard appeal process