Australian Consumer Law

One year on, we take a look at the successes and downfalls of the ACL in its debut year.
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03.Australian Consumer Law explained

What's in the new law?

Unfair contract terms are now regulated A court can void a consumer contract if it deems a term causes significant imbalance between parties and is not necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the signatories.

ACL provides you with express rights when purchasing goods and services It includes 12 consumer guarantees across goods and services. From the beginning of this year, all warranties against defects, including manufacturer’s warranty and extended warranties will include information about your guaranteed protections under the ACL, including replacement, refund and compensation for goods not of an acceptable quality.

Tighter regulation for door-to-door sales This includes set hours when a door-to-door salesperson can visit you, as well as the inclusion of a cooling off periods and guidelines for delivery of goods and pickup of unwanted goods.

Clearing the confusion

For those of you confused about where you stand with the legal terminology, here is an explanation of the most common terms you are likely to come across:

Consumer of goods or services You are considered a consumer of goods or services under the ACL if the amount paid for the goods or services was under $40,000 or the goods or services were of a kind ordinarily acquired for personal, domestic or household use or consumption.   

Consumer contract A consumer contract is a contract for the supply of goods or services or the sale of land to an individual who acquires the goods, services or land wholly or predominantly for personal, domestic or household use. 

Misleading and deceptive conduct This breach covers a raft of behaviours – the most common being a manufacturer or retailer making false or misleading representations about the certain quality, standard or value of a certain product.

Unconscionable conduct Behaviour that is not just or reasonable. The court will examine a number of factors, including power imbalances, the legitimacy of claims and undue influence or pressure exerted on a consumer. Under the ACL, pecuniary penalties now apply to unconscionable conduct.

Unfair term A term of a consumer contract is unfair if it would cause significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract, is not reasonably necessary in order to protect legitimate interests and is potentially detrimental to a party.


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