Penalties under Australian Consumer Law have increased significantly for individuals and corporations.

From 1 September 2018, the penalties under Australian Consumer Law have increased significantly.

What is Australian Consumer Law?

Australian Consumer Law protects consumers' rights including:

  • Consumer's rights when buying goods and services;
  • Contract terms covering standard form and consumer and small business contracts;
  • Product safety; and
  • Unsolicited consumer agreements such as door to door sales and telemarketing.

What do the penalties apply to?

The new penalties relate to numerous offences including:

  • Misleading representations;
  • Unconscionable conduct;
  • Supplying consumer goods or services which are banned; and
  • Supplying consumer goods or services which do not comply with safety standards.

What are the new penalties?

If an individual or corporation is found guilty of an offence under the Australian Consumer Law, then they can face the following penalties:

For an individual:

  • Up to $500,000

For a company, the greater of:

  • $10 million; or
  • If the Court can determine the value of the benefit obtained from the offence (either directly or indirectly) – 3 times the value of the benefit; or
  • If the Court cannot determine the benefit – 10% of the annual turnover of the corporation and related bodies corporate (there are some exceptions which apply).

Why is this important

These penalties for a breach of the Australian Consumer Law are significant.

Any company which supplies goods and services to consumers or small businesses should ensure that they comply with the Australian Consumer Law and do not risk incurring a significant penalty.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Madgwicks is a member of Meritas, one of the world's largest law firm alliances.