Review to bring Australian Consumer Law up-to-date

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th March 2016

accc-logoThe first ever review of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) will test whether consumer protections will suit the modern market place says Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims.

Speaking today at the ACCC’s annual National Consumer Congress in Sydney, Sims said the upcoming review will also address whether regulatory tools and sanctions are delivering compliance.

 “Just as the introduction of the ACL built on previous laws and regimes, we are confident that the 2016 review will confirm this new and improved base while taking steps to advance consumer protection,” Sims said.

Sims listed some of the topics expected to emerge as part of the review including the sharing economy, dealing with phoenix companies, and the reach and size of penalties under the ACL.

“We have often commented that the introduction of AUD$1.1 million pecuniary penalties has been a game changer for regulators in terms of deterrence. But is it enough to deter larger companies?” We also think there is a strong case to examine the merits of extending the reach of penalties to cover breaches of the general prohibitions against misleading and deceptive conduct,” Sims stated.

“Penalties and other remedies already apply to false or misleading representations and there is often overlap between the two,” he said.

The review was a main topic on the congress agenda which brought together consumer groups, community organisations and government.

Issues outside of the ACL discussed at the congress included protecting consumers online and issues affecting disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers. Keynote speakers included The Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, CHOICE Chair Nicole Rich, Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Gerard Brody, Emergency paediatrician Dr Ruth Baker and The Checkout Executive Producer Julian Morrow.