Australia: 60 seconds with Andrew Suttie, strata law group
Last Updated: 2 October 2015

Brisbane based lawyer Andrew Suttie is the national head of our strata law group. He has extensive experience in advising bodies corporate and other stakeholders of their rights and obligations under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld) and related legislation. He is a director of Strata Community Australia (Qld) and the chairperson of the legislation committee which has been actively collaborating with the Attorney General and the legislative review panel in relation to proposed changes to the relevant Queensland legislation.

When he is not solving strata disputes Andrew can be found assisting performers, artists and agents with contractual matters.

What are your top tips for a successful strata scheme?

To be "successful" from an operational perspective you need a professional strata manager and an active (but, arguably, not too active) executive committee. Homogenisation of stakeholder interests also helps – for example, where all the owners are absentee investors in a holiday complex or all the owners are owner-occupiers in the burbs, things usually tick along nicely. It's when those interests converge in a single development that my phone usually starts ringing.

Does every multi-development need to have a strata scheme?

There are other ways to do it (for example, up here in sunny Queensland we have a handful of old company title buildings) but from a development and consumer perspective, it makes most sense to adopt the strata framework because it's simpler and more cost effective to set-up, easier to operate and understand and is constantly being refined to better meet the needs of developers and consumers.

What is the most significant change to QLD strata laws in the last 12 months?

There have been no significant changes for a couple of years now. The previous government commissioned a major review of all property legislation in Queensland but lost office prior to finalising changes to our strata legislation. The new Attorney-General has assured me she will continue with the review and I'm hopeful we will see some significant changes for the better in the next 12 months.

There is recent talk about strata law reforms in QLD, what do you think is the most pressing issue?

Greater empowerment for self-regulation. Currently, in Queensland, bodies corporate (or "owner's corporations" for those south of our border) have no power to tow illegally parked vehicles, impose fines on owners who breach by-laws, impose blanket bans on pets, prevent short-term letting, etc and disputes for simple by-law breaches can take more than a year to resolve. The system is a great example of a toothless tiger and recalcitrant residents are well aware of that. I think giving the body corporate greater power to regulate itself (within reasonable limits) will reduce the occurrence of minor disputes.

If you weren't a lawyer what would you be?

Well, I played music professionally for a decade before concerns about my dwindling retirement options got the better of me, so I'd probably blow the cobwebs out of my saxophone.

Describe your perfect weekend.

EITHER:

  1. Friday night: dinner at Sails Noosa;
  2. Saturday morning: flight to Narita, early dinner at the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Shinjuku, Steely Dan live at the Blue Note in Aoyama; overnight flight to Queenstown; Sunday: spot of trout fishing; long lunch at the Botswana Butchery; fly home; OR

  1. Camping on Teewah Beach.

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