While the law is there to help and to protect when problems arise, it is better to anticipate a problem and take steps to avoid it. For example, for most people, buying a home or a car is a large commitment. The cost of having the home or car inspected by a building engineer or a mechanic is a small and worthwhile cost compared with the cost of repairing defects not discovered until after the contract is signed or the money is paid.
It is also important not to sign documents before having them checked and explained by a competent person. Once a document is signed, it is presumed that it is legally binding.
Consumer problems that do arise are usually best resolved by direct negotiation with the other party. If this fails, the Consumer and Business Services or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission can sometimes help. If this also fails, a claim in the minor civil division of the Magistrates Court may provide a remedy (see 'COURT - SUING AND BEING SUED'). Procedures and forms are simplified to allow people to make claims without needing a lawyer. In some cases it might be necessary to have a lawyer take the matter to court, but for many consumer problems the cost and risk of doing this can far outweigh the possible benefits.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.