If you are in business, you should have heard by now that there is a new Australian Consumer Law (ACL). If you haven’t, in bringing you up to speed – it is a new single national consumer law that commenced on 1 Jan 2011.
The ACCC has already handed down millions of dollars’ worth of penalties under the new laws, from the smaller end such as cafes and restaurants, fashion retailers and car dealers, up to larger corporations such as Optus, which received 27 infringement notices for its “Max Cap” plans in relation to false and misleading representations in advertisements.
The ACCC warns that there are still a large number of SMEs, and retailers in particular, that don’t understand their obligations under the new laws yet.
If you are a supplier of goods or services you need to understand these new laws and how they apply to you immediately!
Snapshot of the ACL
From 1 January 2010 the existing Trade Practices Act 1974 was renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACL applies to the supply of goods or services, the sale of land, and the supply of financial products and services, to all “consumers”, which has slightly varying meanings throughout the application of the Act, but can mean consumers as individuals, as well as (in some instances) other businesses.
The general standards of business conduct that will now be governed by the ACL will include:
- Consumer guarantees
- Standard form contracts, and ensuring they don’t contain unfair terms
- Safety of products and services
- Rules on sales practices, including those on prices, consumer information, lay-by agreements and unsolicited consumer agreements.
If you are in business, and you haven’t already, you will need to:
- Understand which areas of your business will be affected by the ACL
- Understand the risks of non-compliance
- Assess which areas or contracts will need to be reviewed and amended.
Let us know if you have any concerns about how the new legislation might impact you or your business.