The Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Bill
(No. 2) 2010 was passed by both houses of Parliament on 24
June 2010 and is currently awaiting royal assent. The bill imposes
onerous notification requirements on suppliers of goods which are
associated with the death, serious injury or illness of any person.
The relevant provisions are expected to commence on 1 January
The bill provides that if a supplier of consumer goods in trade
or commerce becomes aware that a death, serious injury or illness
has been caused, or may have been caused, to a person by the use or
foreseeable misuse of the goods, the supplier must give written
notice to the Minister within 2 days of becoming so aware
("the notification requirement"). Further, the supplier
must provide such notice if the supplier becomes aware that another
person considers that a death, serious injury or illness has been
caused, or may have been caused, by the goods.
There are a few exceptions to the notification requirement, such
as if it is clear that the death, serious injury or illness was not
caused by the use of the goods or it is very unlikely that it was
so caused. Further, the supplier will not have to provide
notification if the supplier, or another person, is required to
notify the death, serious injury or illness in accordance with
another law or an industry code of practice.
The written notice to the Minister must meet all of the
identify the consumer goods;
include information about when, and in what quantities, the
consumer goods were manufactured in Australia, supplied in
Australia, imported into Australia or exported from Australia;
include information about the circumstances in which the death,
serious injury or illness occurred and the nature of any serious
injury or illness suffered by any person; and
include information about any action the supplier has taken, or
is intending to take, in relation to the consumer goods.
The bill provides that:
The giving of a notice to the Minister is not to be taken to be
an admission by the supplier of any liability in relation to the
consumer goods or the death, serious injury or illness of any
Notices are to be kept confidential. However there are a few
exceptions, such as disclosures from the Minister to another
responsible Minister, regulator or associate regulator and
disclosures by members of staff to other members of staff in
performance of their duties
The notice can be disclosed if:
the Minister considers its disclosure to be in the public
the disclosure is required or authorised by law;
the disclosure is reasonably necessary for the enforcement of
the criminal law or of a law imposing a pecuniary penalty.
The notification requirement and the associated provisions also
apply to suppliers of "product related services". The
bill defines "product related service" to be a service
relating to the supply of consumer goods of a particular kind. It
includes the installation, maintenance, repair, cleaning, assembly
or delivery of consumer goods.
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.
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The Federal Court decision is likely to encourage the ACCC to maintain unconscionable conduct as an enforcement priority.
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