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New steps aimed at giving the Code of Conduct more relevance

The body aimed at reforming the crucial repair industry code of conduct will look to establishing it as a legal entity to give it more credibility and clout.

The Code Administration Committee of the repair industry’s key directives, governing relations between repairers and the insurance industry, has received legal advice regarding options for incorporation as a formal legal entity.

Motor Vehicle Insurance and Repair Industry CAC Chair, Stephen Jenkins says it was another significant milestone in meeting the recommendations of the independent review conducted in 2022 and will consider its next steps.

“Recommendation 9 of Dr Schaper’s review was that the CAC should adopt an association, company or other corporate structure. He identified that under its present informal structure, the Code may lack credibility among industry players and government bodies.” MVIRI CAC Chair, Stephen Jenkins says.

“The advice received by the CAC is a critical input to the CAC’s considerations on how it can enhance its independence and improve the overall governance of the Code.”

“The legal advice received is also of assistance in guiding instructions for the redrafting of the Code. The CAC is also currently in the process of obtaining proposals as to the drafting of the revised Code.”

“Once a revised draft of the Code is received, the CAC will engage and consult with the insurance and repair industry and other stakeholders.”

It comes as a group of Melbourne body shop owners independently plan to meet on Wednesday ( April 24, 7.30pm) at Precise Smash Repairs, in Keilor Park to discuss the issue.

The object of the gathering is to raise questions and concerns the group has with the code and other issues facing the industry.

Following a troubled thirty-year history, in 2022 the Schaper Review found a number of issues including the lack of widespread knowledge and relevance of the code was a critical area undermining its effectiveness to the industry along with ongoing issues around dispute resolution.

As the code is redrawn, one industry sticking point is whether the code of conduct would be mandatory and its adjudications binding to tall parties.

The Code of conduct is currently only mandatory in NSW and SA and details of how it would be enforced have not yet been made clear.

MTTA CEO Matt Hobbs told NCR in an interview, they are advocating for it to be mandatory and have an independent ombudsman to swiftly resolve disputes.

“If we can’t mandate it and resource it properly, it will never reach its full potential,” Hobbs  told NCR last month.

“It’s got to have teeth. It’s got to be a viable, funded organisation that has an alternative dispute resolution programme that works. Unless we start doing things differently, we just relive the last 30 to 50 years of problems constantly. And there are tools in the arsenal, whether that’s collective bargaining, whether that’s unfair contract terms, but for a local business that’s just trying to get stuff done and serve their customers, they just want the problem fixed.”

The CAC chair Jenkins has outlined with NCR the key objectives in 2024 following the establishment of proper governance offices and procedures was a rewrite of the code to make it more simple and relevant  along with an overhaul of its website to make information more accessible.

He remained cautiously optimistic on the progress made to date.

“As a committee, we have set ourselves a goal to receive a revised draft of the Code by the middle of 2024.”
“I would like to thank all committee members for their hard work, but more importantly to the industry for their patience to date.”

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