Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

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An expectation of work was not enough to vary the owner-driver contract

The applicant, a business which owns and operates a truck, contracted to provide transport services to the respondent. The respondent’s customers, such as Linfox, would request transport services and the respondent would offer the work to its contractors. Following discussions with the respondent’s Operations Director about Linfox seeking float services, the applicant decided to purchase a float.

Today, the Road Freight Transport Industry Tribunal rejected the applicant’s claim that the owner-driver contract was varied to include a term that if the applicant acquired a float, the respondent would hire it at a certain rate.


On the evidence, the Tribunal found that the respondent operated its business on the basis that its workflow was dependent on requests from customers, and the respondent could never guarantee a minimum level of work. At best, the applicant had an expectation that it would receive float work.

Commissioner S J Kenner considered the principles in relation to the variation of a contract, promissory estoppel and implied terms.

While an estoppel was not made out, Commissioner S J Kenner considered that the Tribunal can have regard to equitable principles when determining a contractual dispute between a hirer and an owner-driver.

The decision can be read here.

Does the Full Bench have power to extend time to institute an appeal under s 49(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA)?

United Voice WA sought to institute an appeal three days out of time. The respondent employer, The Director General, Department of Education, argued the Full Bench has no power to extend time within which to institute an appeal. A majority of the Full Bench rejected the argument and found the time limit in s 49(3) of the Industrial Relations Act is procedural and the power to extend time is prescribed in s 27(1)(n) of the Industrial Relations Act.

In respect of the merits of the appeal, the Full Bench unanimously found that part of the relief sought at first instance was not within power as the union sought binding declarations of rights and obligations in respect of past events. However, as the union also sought an order within power, the appeal was allowed and the decision at first instance was suspended and the case remitted for further hearing and determination.

The decision can be read here.

The Full Bench authorises the Registrar to register the Principals’ Federation of Western Australia

A majority of members of the Full Bench (Scott ASC and Kenner C) has found that there is good reason consistent with the objects of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 to permit registration of the Principals’ Federation of Western Australia as an organisation of employees.

Once registered, principals and deputy principals employed in the public sector will be eligible to join the Principals’ Federation of Western Australia.

The decision can be read here.

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Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
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PERTH WA 6000

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