The defendant was the sole owner and operator of a business advertising air conditioning design and installation. He also publicised that he could repair and service air conditioners.
A homeowner engaged the defendant to install a ceiling fan, three air conditioning units and a TV point. In April 2014, he attended and commenced work after a deposit was paid. The ceiling fan failed to work and the homeowner had concerns as to licensing, and complained to the Electrical Safety Office (ESO). The defendant admitted he did not hold an electrical contractor licence, but claimed that the wiring work for the fan was performed by a licensed electrician in his employ. No records could be found evidencing the licensing of any sub-contractor/employee.
In April 2014, the ESO issued the defendant with an Electrical Safety Protection Notice (ESPN) prohibiting him from conducting a business which included the performance of electrical work unless being the holder of an electrical contractor licence. He was also issued with a $500 infringement notice for conducting a business which included the performance of electrical work without a licence.
In October 2014, tenants at another property engaged the defendant to install an air conditioning unit after seeing an advertisement in a local newspaper. Following installation, some of the pipes were leaking water. The owners engaged another air conditioning contractor who identified the incorrect installation of the system, and wiring improperly connected to a bathroom light. Rectification work was required at a cost to the homeowner.
In October 2014, the ESO received a complaint from occupants of a third address. They engaged the defendant from an internet advertisement to install two air conditioning units. During installation the homeowners became concerned about the quality of the work and questioned whether the defendant was licensed. They contacted the ESO, who determined the defendant was not licensed to perform electrical work. The defendant later admitted he had engaged another person to assist with the electrical work and was aware that this person was also unlicensed.
Throughout the period between 24 September and 28 October 2014, the defendant conducted a business and advertised in local newspapers and on the internet. An interview was conducted with the defendant who admitted to not holding a contractor licence, but claimed that was not required in his home state of New South Wales. When asked why he continued to do electrical work after being issued with an ESPN directing him not to, he asserted that it was due to a mental condition.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 16 August 2016 to three breaches of s.55(1) and one of s.56(1) of the Electrical Safety Act 2002. Magistrate Terry Gardiner fined the defendant $10,000 in relation to three of the charges, and ordered professional costs totaling $750. He also made an order in relation to the first charge that the defendant not offend against the Electrical Safety Act 2002 for a period of two years, with a recognisance in the sum of $1000 to be forfeited if convicted of such an offence within this period. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate took into account the early pleas of guilty and cooperation with the investigation. The court accepted submissions that the defendant had a troubled childhood involving domestic violence and sexual assault. In deciding penalty, Magistrate Gardiner took into account the defendant had been misleading consumers, representing himself as licensed. In April 2014, he had been placed on notice that his conduct was unlawful following the receipt of an infringement notice, but despite this continued to conduct work.
Although the offences took place over a six month period, for the purposes of determining whether to record a conviction, the Magistrate noted the defendant had no previous breaches under the Act, entered early plea of guilty, and had shown remorse.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
Visit the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website for information on electrical licensing laws:
- Electricity, gas, water and waste services
- Date of offence:
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Mr Terry Gardiner
- s.55(1) Electrical Safety Act 2002
- Decision date:
- Charge 1: 2 year good behavior bond with $1000 recognizance and Charges 2-4: $10,000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $40,000 for each charge (400 penalty units)
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: