South Australia To Tighten Unclaimed Goods Act

The South Australian Government is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the Unclaimed Goods Act 1987 that could make it easier to sell or dispose of goods not collected by owners.

The scenario could unfold following the sale of an item that is not collected, after goods are left with a business to service, when a person agrees to look after goods for another, or when items have been otherwise abandoned.

The Unclaimed Goods Act 1987 currently permits a person to sell or dispose of unclaimed goods after waiting three months. They must then follow a set process of sale or disposal depending on the value of the goods, which may require public auctions and advertisements.

A prevalent example of where the act has proved to be cumbersome is where a mechanic is left with a car that the owner abandons after deciding it is not worth the cost of repairs.

Proposed changes are aimed at making the process of selling or disposing of unclaimed goods easier and reducing unnecessary costs, while maintaining important protections for owners.

“No one wants to be stuck holding onto or storing things for extended periods that they don’t want and that don’t belong to them,” said Attorney-General, Kyam Maher.

“If goods aren’t claimed, there should be a clear, simple, and fair process for people to follow so they no longer have responsibility for them.

“We’re looking at reducing the amount of time people need to hold onto unclaimed goods as well as simplifying the steps involved in disposing of or selling unclaimed goods.

The government would like to acknowledge and thank the Motor Trade Association for raising the impracticalities of this outdated legislation and for working with us to finalise this discussion paper for broader consultation.”

Motor Trade Association SA/NT CEO, Darrell Jacobs, said automotive service and repair businesses are being used as a dumping ground for unwanted cars.

“Even after years of unanswered calls, letters and emails to a previous owner, businesses are left with red tape nightmares and disposal costs well in excess of the vehicle’s value,” he added.

“The MTA welcomes the state government’s review of Unclaimed Goods laws.”

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