Australian Consumer Law

Frequently Asked Questions

The government, especially via the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), but also through various state and territory agencies) seeks to promote competition and fair trade in the marketplace to benefit consumers, businesses and the community. The various laws and requirements designed to achieve this can be complex. We can help businesses comply and avoid (or assist in solving or minimising) problems.

When a business considers advertising its product or service, establishing a competition or promotion, considering its warranty or refund policies or similar issues, it is important to comply with the legislative requirements. Businesses also have a responsibility to treat fairly and truthfully other businesses (and consumers) with whom they deal.

Businesses, and their employees, who are found to have not treated their responsibilities seriously may be subject to substantial financial penalties, corrective advertising and possible adverse publicity. There is also the possibility that such businesses may be obliged to establish an approved training programme designed to ensure that their staff are aware of their legal responsibilities.

Businesses who are in doubt of their responsibilities in Australian Consumer Law Compliance (or who have encountered problems, such as complaints from other businesses or consumers, or the ACCC or other government bodies) may discuss any issue with us with a view to ensuring compliance with the law or seeking a solution to a problem, in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Hutchinson Legal has experience in advising clients in this regard and also liaising with the ACCC.

What is an unfair contract term?

There are two situations that the unfair contract term provisions apply:

  • Contracts that are for the supply of goods or services, or the sale of land, to an individual for personal, domestic or household use.
  • Contracts for the supply of goods or services, or the sale of land, where at least one of the parties is a small business and the upfront contract price is less than a certain amount if the contract is for more than 12 months.

The unfair contract term provisions apply to standard form consumer contracts. Standard form contracts are typically offered on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. A term will be unfair where it causes an imbalance between the parties’ rights and obligations, is not reasonably necessary to protect a party and will cause detriment to a party.

If a term is found to be unfair, it will be void, meaning it will be of no effect.

Questions? Ask our Commercial Law team.

Rod Veith
Disputes & Litigation
03 9870 9870