The CSOS Act provides that the Ombud presides over a dispute resolution mechanism in community schemes: be wary of going to court rather than this forum – it might cost you.
In the case of Wingate Body Corporate v Pamba and Another, we explore an interesting legal scenario involving a body corporate, Wingate Body Corporate (“Wingate”), and two residents in a housing complex. The case revolves around a dispute related to the use of common property within the complex, specifically, a carport that the residents had been using. Wingate sought an urgent court order to prevent these residents from interfering with their business operations involving a plumbing firm. The residents, on the other hand, opposed this application, arguing that it should have been brought before the Community Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS) rather than the court.
Examination of the Law:
The legal context of this case is important. Wingate operates under the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA), and it is required by law to be registered with CSOS. The CSOS was established under the CSOS Act and plays a significant role in resolving disputes within community schemes. It regulates the rules, procedures, and administration of such schemes, including the use of common property.
Purpose, Function, and Authority of the CSOS:
The CSOS Act specifies the purpose and function of the CSOS, which includes providing a dispute resolution mechanism for community schemes. In other words, it serves as a forum for resolving disputes within such schemes, ensuring the proper governance and management of sectional title schemes. Importantly, the CSOS has the authority to address behavioural issues and issue orders to control nuisance behaviour and ensure specific actions are taken or refrained from.
The Court’s Findings and Conclusion:
In this case, the court considered the nature of the dispute and found that it clearly fell within the jurisdiction of the CSOS. The argument made by Wingate, suggesting they had the right to approach the court, was dismissed by the court. The court pointed out that the mandatory adjudication process outlined by the CSOS should have been followed, and the case should not have been brought before the court. As a result, the court declined to entertain the matter.
This case underscores the necessity of following the CSOS framework for resolving community scheme disputes before resorting to court, emphasizing the CSOS’s role in sectional title scheme issues and its legal requirements.