Under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, hirers, owner drivers and forestry contractors must not engage in ‘unconscionable conduct’ with respect to each other, including during negotiations.

Generally speaking, unconscionable conduct occurs where a stronger party to a transaction exploits a weaker party in a way that is unreasonable or unfair.

The Act sets out the factors that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) may examine when deciding whether conduct is unconscionable or not.

VCAT may have regard to the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice when determining whether the conduct of a hirer or contractor constitutes unconscionable conduct. The Code sets out examples of conduct that may be unconscionable.

However, what may amount to unconscionable conduct or an unjust term will depend on all of the parties’ circumstances. It is important to get advice on this.

Owner drivers, forestry contractors and hirers can refer allegations of unconscionable conduct or unjust contract terms to the Victorian Small Business Commission for alternative dispute resolution. If not resolved, they can then be referred to VCAT.

VCAT has the power to make a variety of orders if it finds that there has been unconscionable conduct. VCAT can also change contracts if they contain unjust contract terms.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria

Wage Inspectorate Victoria is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005. The Inspectorate can guide you through the dispute resolution process.

If you have any questions, Wage Inspectorate Victoria is available to provide information and answer queries. Please call the Information Line on 1800 287 287 or email odfc@dpc.vic.gov.au

Make a complaint

If you have a complaint relating to a transport or forestry contract engagement, you can report it using the Wage Inspectorate complaint form.

You also have the option to make an anonymous report if you suspect someone is breaking the rules relating to owner drivers or contractors but you don’t want to provide personal information.