Are your people up to speed on the Australian Consumer Law?

| November 9, 2011



The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) commenced on the first of January this year and applies to all Australian businesses.  From the board, to sales staff to management and back office operations, it is important your people know what the ACL means for your business.

The ACL reduces business compliance burdens by replacing provisions set out in twenty Commonwealth, state and territory laws with a single national consumer law.

The ACL replicates many of the provisions of the old Trade Practices and state and territory Fair Trading Acts you’d be familiar with, but includes innovative aspects which enhance consumer certainty and reduce red tape for businesses, including:

  • national unfair contract terms law covering standard form consumer contracts;

  • a national law guaranteeing consumer rights when buying goods and services, which replaces existing laws on implied conditions and warranties;

  • a national product safety law and enforcement system;

  • a  national law for unsolicited consumer agreements, which replaces existing State and Territory laws on door-to-door sales and telemarketing;

  • simple national rules for lay-by agreements; and

  • new penalties, enforcement powers and consumer redress options, which apply nationally.

NSW Fair Trading has worked with our Commonwealth, State and Territory partners to produce simple-language guides to help businesses and legal practitioners understand key elements of the ACL.

The Avoiding Unfair Business Practices Guide covers misleading or deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, false or misleading representations and related offences, information standards and country of origin representations.

Consumer Guarantees explains what statutory guarantees apply to goods and services, who is responsible for these guarantees and when remedies, such as refund repair and replacement are available.

The Product Safety Guide details the new national product safety regime.

Sales Practices explains unsolicited supplies, unsolicited consumer agreements, pyramid schemes, multiple pricing, lay-by agreements, referral selling and harassment and coercion.

Also available is a Guide to the ACL’s provisions relating to Unfair Contract Terms and a Guide to the principles that underpin the compliance and enforcement approach of the ACCC, ASIC and state and territory consumer protection agencies.

These easy to use resources will ensure all staff are reading from the same page and reduce the chance of disputes with customers or finding yourself on the wrong side of the regulators.

To download the Guides or learn more about the ACL, visit the Australian Consumer Law website.

The Hon Anthony Roberts MP is the NSW Minister for Fair Trading. Prior to becoming the Member for Lane Cove, he was Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Lane Cove Municipal Council.  Anthony proudly served with the Australian Army on peace keeping operations in Bougainville as part of Operation Bel Isi.  He was also an adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.