FPA Australia Wins Supreme Court Case
Posted on : Thursday, 16 February 2017
Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) has won an
important and long-running Supreme Court case which could have far
reaching implications for the Fire Protection Industry and the
growing demand for professional accreditation schemes.
The case centred around whether FPA Australia had acted lawfully
when it cancelled the accreditation of a practitioner.
In 2012 FPA Australia received a complaint about the
practitioner's conduct which alleged some irregularities in reports
that had been produced.
FPA Australia requested information from the practitioner in
order to investigate the complaint. The practitioner refused
several requests over a number of months and FPA Australia
suspended and then cancelled the accreditation. The
practitioner issued proceedings against FPA Australia seeking
reinstatement and other relief.
The Supreme Court found that the practitioner was bound by
contract to provide the requested information and FPA Australia, as
the administrator of the accreditation scheme, had acted
In dismissing the proceedings and awarding costs to FPA
Australia, the Court said: "In my view, the defendant [FPA
Australia] was entitled to regard that as such a fundamental breach
of the contract as to amount to repudiation. In the field of risk
assessment, particularly a risk with such potentially catastrophic
consequences, transparency and cooperation are of the utmost
importance. This was not a question of a potential breach of the
practices imposed by the Code of Practice or the General
Conditions; it went to the heart of the defendant's role in
providing certification to that end. The refusal to cooperate with
the process threatened the defendant's capacity to proceed to
investigate a complaint which, if established, was a serious
matter. As already noted, that is not to make any assumption as to
the merits of the complaint. The point is it needed to be
investigated and the plaintiffs were refusing to cooperate in that
process in the manner required by their contract."
FPA Australia's CEO, Scott Williams said that the importance of
professionally managing and administering accreditation schemes was
critical and governments must have absolute confidence in any
organisation who delivers such a scheme. If the scheme
is not properly administered and the necessary governance does not
exist, including a clear surveillance, auditing and disciplinary
process, the existence of a scheme and therefore the necessary
benefits it provides are undermined.
FPA Australia will continue to expand its accreditation schemes
in the fire protection industry and ensure that confidence in its
accreditation schemes is upheld.