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Disputes arising from Mobile Food Vendor Location Rules

The Small Business Commissioner has taken on a new dispute resolution role as part of new laws governing the placement of mobile food vans in South Australia.  

Under section 225A(1) of the Local Government Act 1999 (the Act), all South Australian Councils are required to prepare, adopt and publish rules (known as location rules) that identify locations in which mobile food vending businesses may operate within the Council area.  

The changes which were passed by Parliament late last year came into effect on 1 March 2018.  

The new laws, in part, state that if an operator of a food business as defined under the Act is directly adversely affected by the location rules of the Council, the operator may apply to the Small Business Commissioner for a review of the location rules.

Complaints received by the Small Business Commissioner will, in the first instance, be attempted to be resolved through discussions between the parties, which may also include other food businesses and the local Council. Should that fail, the Small Business Commissioner will follow the dispute resolution procedures which have been set out under the Act.

During 2016-2017 the Office of the Small Business Commissioner received 3476 enquiries from businesses seeking support and advice. Many of these became formal cases where a dispute between two parties has occurred and assistance is needed to resolve the matter. These disputes are on a range of matters including leasing, service of goods, failure to pay for work undertaken, faulty merchandise or equipment and issues with local or state government.

“It is important that where issues arise we have a strong mechanism to be able to resolve disputes,” Small Business Commissioner John Chapman said.

“It is important that we try and balance the interests of all parties and we can draw upon a panel of highly qualified external mediators to assist in any dispute, if necessary.”

Mr Chapman said he had appreciated the support of the Local Government Association which had worked constructively to help Councils develop their locational guidelines.

Complaints relating to the location rules for Mobile Food Vendors can be made online via the Office of the Small Business Commissioner website at https://www.sasbc.sa.gov.au/dispute_resolution/mobile-food-vendors.

Media contact: John Chapman, Small Business Commissioner on 8303 2026.

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