Consumer protection enforcement

Consumer protection laws are not being enforced as well as they could be.
 
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  • Updated:10 Dec 2008
 

01 .Introduction

A gavel

The issue

Consumer protection laws exist to ensure markets operate fairly. Good quality regulation is essential to the fair and practical operation of markets. It also protects consumers from risky and dangerous products. However, those same laws are not always effectively enforced.

In December 2008, CHOICE published the report Good practice in consumer protection enforcement, which found:

  • There is currently no agreed measure of what counts as good consumer protection enforcement.
  • There are no consistent approaches to reporting how well the agencies are doing.

CHOICE conducted research on 12 regulators against a Good Practice Model and found that none of the regulators is providing 'good' performance on consumer protection enforcement. See results here.

What we want

We want consumer protection regulators and government consumer affairs policy agencies to work together to develop a Good Practice Enforcement Model, building on that proposed in our report.

Our report also recommends that:

  • All consumer protection regulators should publish consistent, detailed reports on their enforcement activities.
  • Governments should ensure that consumer protection regulators are provided with sufficient resources to do their job.
  • Individual governments and regulators should respond to the agency-specific recommendations contained in the report.

What we’re doing

CHOICE is meeting with regulators and government agencies to discuss how to develop an improved Good Practice Model. CHOICE has urged regulators to work together to prepare and publish consistent data reporting on the key features of their enforcement work.

More information
Read the full report, Good practice in consumer protection enforcement.

 
 

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02.Performance bands

 

How the regulators fared: Performance Bands

Band A – Good practice
None

Band B – Acceptable practice
Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC)
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
New South Wales Office of Fair Trading
Queensland Office of Fair Trading
Western Australia Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (DOCEP)

Band C – Below Standard
Australian Capital Territory Office of Fair Trading
South Australia Office of Business and Consumer Affairs
Tasmania Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading

Band D – Unacceptable
Northern Territory Office of Consumer and Business Affairs

No rankings
Two Commonwealth regulators, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) were NOT given an overall ranking. In both cases insufficient data was available (ACMA was a new agency at the time of the research).