On 4 September 2020, a rental property owner pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Holland Park Magistrates Court for conducting electrical work without a licence in contravention of s. 55(1) of the Electrical Safety Act 2002.

The defendant was the owner of a rental property located in Carindale, Brisbane. In December 2019, the tenant of the property reported maintenance issues, including a broken light switch, to the managing agent. The following day, the defendant attended the property and replaced the broken light switch by removing the electrical wires from the old light switch and connecting those wires to the new light switch. That work constituted electrical work, the performance of which required an electrical license. The defendant did not hold an electrical license.

The tenant observed the defendant completing the work. The defendant informed the tenant that he had fixed the light by replacing it, that he was not an electrician but that the light switch was safe. When the tenant sought further assurance, the defendant responded that it was a better alternative than spending money on an electrician. When challenged further the defendant indicated that the tenant could sue him.

On 17 December 2019, an inspector from the Electrical Safety Office (ESO) attended the rental address and examined the replaced light switch. The inspector discovered that an earth conductor had been used as a switch wire and the circuit was disconnected to ensure electrical safety.  Subsequently the inspector spoke with the defendant, who admitted that he had changed the light switch. The defendant was issued an infringement notice for the offence. He later elected to have the matter heard before a Court.

In sentencing, Magistrate Sheryl Cornack took into account the defendant’s guilty plea and lack of prior convictions. Her Honour remarked that the time and expense incurred in the preparation of the matter could have been avoided had the defendant simply paid the infringement notice. However, she acknowledged the defendant was unaware the costs would be significant when electing to take the matter to court and that he wanted to make submissions in mitigation. Her Honour imposed a fine in the same amount as the original infringement penalty, being $400, as well as ordering payment of the court filing fee.

OWHSP contact: enquiries@owhsp.qld.gov.au

Court Report

Electricity, gas, water and waste services
Date of offence
Risk of injury
Holland Park Magistrates Court
Magistrate or judge
Magistrate Sheryl Cornack
Decision date

Section 55(1) Electrical Safety Act 2002

Maximum fine available
Professional and legal costs
Court costs
In default period
Time to pay
Referred to SPER
Conviction recorded