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21 August 2019

An undischarged bankrupt barred from operating as a business director has been fined nearly $9000 for misleading consumers and carrying out unlicensed building works.

In the Adelaide Magistrates Court, 45-year old James Arthur Pepper admitted to breaches of the Building Work Contractor’s Act 1995 and Australian Consumer Law.

The court heard that Pepper declared bankruptcy in 2013 and, as a result, was precluded from being the director of a building work company.

Three years later he established not one but two new building companies and used other people, including his uncle, as ‘puppet’ directors while undertaking the work himself.

“In one instance Pepper contracted for significant building works at a property in Heathfield, even though the company didn’t hold a building work contractor’s licence,” Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said.

“He also failed to take out building indemnity insurance, telling the homeowners this was not required, and sought a 50% deposit – well in excess of the allowed maximum of five per cent of the contract price.

“In addition to this, the work that was performed was of a poor standard, with the consumers ultimately terminating their contract with him.”

Pepper also falsely advertised his bathroom renovation company Innov8 Projects as being in partnership with the Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry Association, when in fact he had no approval to use either of those logos on his website.

“He was prohibited from managing a company yet tried to get around that illegally and was willing to mislead consumers in advertising for business – this kind of conduct undermines the licensing regime designed to protect consumers and builders who have legitimate affiliations with peak industry bodies,” Mr Soulio said.

Pepper was fined a total of $8700, and ordered to pay prosecution costs of $400.

The company Innov8 Projects was fined $1050 and ordered to pay costs of $400.

If you have concerns about the conduct of a building contractor, or want to check that a contractor is licensed to do the work you’re after, contact CBS for advice on 131 882.