In the case of Precept Services Pty Ltd v Concrete
Equipment Australia (Trading) & Anor  QSC 339,
the plaintiff (subcontractor) had given a
notice of claim of charge to the second defendant
(employer). The notice appeared to be in the
approved form for a notice of claim of charge over all money
owing, but contained a reference to a charge on retention
money. This reference created some ambiguity as to whether the
charge was on all money owing, or on retention money only.
The court found this reference was nothing more than
a clerical error and did not void the notice for uncertainty.
It was possible to ascertain with reasonable certainty from the
notice that the money charged was not just retention money, but
all money payable under the head contract.
The decision demonstrates flexibility in interpreting claims
made under the Subcontractors' Charges Act
1974 (Qld) (Act), but contrasts with
earlier decisions such as in the case of FFE Group (Qld)
Pty Ltd  1 Qd R 267. In Precept Services it
was held that a claim will not be void for uncertainty even if
it is not identical to the approved form, providing it is
possible to ascertain with reasonable certainty the money
In upholding the validity of this notice there is no
suggestion that those serving claims must not be prudent in
their approach. The interpretation of the clerical error was
made according to section 10 of the Act and similar methodology
was not adopted in the interpretation of section 5(5). The
court rejected the plaintiffs' submissions relating to
'on retention' as used in section 5(5), largely
because the wording was not broad enough to permit a charge
'on retention money' to act as a claim of
charge on all money.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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