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Cam Eden

Active Member
28 August 2014
I would like to know if i have any legal grounds to pursue compensation for the below incident.

I paid $3700 to a car courier company to have my unregistered Toyota Coaster Motorhome transported from Darwin, NT to Brisbane, QLD. I booked through a company that takes bookings for multiple courier companies Australia Wide. We did not have insurance.

Our holiday ended abruptly due to a death in the family and the motorhome had been stuck in Darwin for approximately 6 months. We flew to Darwin to pack up the motorhome, and make sure the contents were secure then delivered it, along with the keys, so the company could drive it onto the truck for transport.

3 weeks later, we were given a delivery date. However, the day before we were to collect it from the depot in Brisbane, we received a call to say that it had caught fire on the back of the truck 3 hours out of Brisbane, and was now a burnt out shell. Apparently, it was well alight before the driver noticed, so that his small fire extinguisher had no effect and as he was half an hour from the nearest town with a fire station it was a long time before they could put it out. It was so badly burnt that the cause of the fire couldn't be determined.

Although we had no car insurance and can not prove any negligence, should the company still have to take some responsibility and give us compensation for the loss of our vehicle under Australian Consumer Law?

Much appreciated

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi Cam,

1. Talk to the company and see if they are willing to offer any form of compensation outside of legal action.
2. Figure out what exactly happened. How did the van catch fire? There should have been a police report or fire report of the incident. Ask for this. Further, the company should have insurance. Ask to see a copy of their insurance report on the incident.
3. You may have a claim in negligence and/or breach of contract. However, this depends on what evidence you can gather, what caused the fire etc. You will need more facts.


Your rights in this situation will largely depend on your written contract or bill of carriage with the car courier company. All road transport carriers should provide a standard set of trading conditions which explain the terms under which its services are provided. This may include an exclusion of liability. (If you did not receive this, then there may be grounds to claim insufficient notice of an exclusion of liability if it exists.)

Assuming this carrier exercises a degree of discretion as to who it will provide services to, it would probably be classified as a "private carrier" for legal purposes. There is no specific legislation governing private road carriers in Australia and it is therefore possible for them to contract out of all liability caused whatsoever, through a "Liability Exclusion Clause". Again, check your paperwork for this.

You may however be able to rely on implied warranties under consumer law legislation, that require for example that the carrier exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill while providing the service to you. Such a warranty will override any clause in the contract or agreement which states otherwise. You can read more about this on the Australian Consumer Law website.

Whether you can rely on something like this however will depend on what evidence you can get to demonstrate that proper care was not taken - or that the company's negligence somehow caused the fire. As such, I would do your investigating work as suggested by Sarah J and find out as much as you can about the company and how the incident occurred.

Tim W

LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
Have a look at the T&Cs of carriage...
it will probably have some kind of term in the realm of
"all care but no responsibility" .