Land area of no consequence in determining whether premises are “retail premises”

Occasionally I am asked whether premises are “retail premises” under s 4(1) of the Retail Leases Act 2003 where a retail business is conducted on a small piece of a substantial area of leased land. This issue arose in Bretair Pty Ltd v Cave [2012] VCAT 1039.  The premises were used as a service station and road house restaurant business. The landlord contended that the premises were not “retail premises” because the leased land comprised 7.5 acres only part of which was used by the businesses conducted there. The Tribunal rejected the landlord’s claim holding that “The RLA does not distinguish between retail and non-retail premises based on the size of the land demised”.  The Senior Member said:

 ….the fact that the buildings, canopies and driveways are surrounded by 7½ acres of land is of no consequence in deciding whether the RLA applies to the current lease agreement between the parties because there is no evidence that the surrounding land is used for any specific purpose other than it is simply being part of the leasehold interest.

 The Senior Member also held that even if he were wrong, VCAT had jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter as a “consumer and trader dispute” under the Fair Trading Act 1999 or the Australian Consumer and Fair Trading Act 2012.

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