The ACCC has given us a timely reminder that the Australian
Consumer Law reaches beyond Australian shores. If Australian
companies engage in misleading or deceptive conduct or make false
testimonials on the internet and those representations are
therefore available overseas, those companies can still be
injuncted in Australia and restrained from making further
misleading or false representations.
The ACCC had previously taken action against Sensaslim Australia
Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) (Sensaslim) and its
directors to stop the parties promoting the sale of Sensaslim
franchises and products both in Australia and overseas. On 31
August 2011, the Federal Court ordered that the interim injunction
already in place against Sensaslim and its directors should remain
in place to protect consumers in Australia but that it should be
extended to ensure consumers are protected overseas.
Sensaslim was a company marketing and distributing an oral spray
known as "Sensaslim Spray". The product purported to aid
weight loss. The product was promoted by reference to a clinical
trial that the Court found was never conducted and by reference to
a specialist doctor's report on that clinical trial that was
described by the Court as "bogus" 1. Other
claims made by Sensaslim which the Court found to be misleading
were claims that other franchisees were already participating in
and profiting from Sensaslim franchises.
In providing reasons for his judgment, Yates J said the
Australian Consumer Law applies to conduct outside
Australia by an Australian citizen or a person ordinarily a
resident within Australia where that conduct involves the use of
postal, telegraphic or telephonic services or takes place in a
radio or television broadcast.
Yates J also referred to previous Australian cases whereby
"Australia has an interest in regulating the situation
where Australians are cheated overseas or where a corporation
incorporated within Australia carries out an act [in another
country] that is contrary to Australian Law"
Yates J found that it was within the Court's power to stop
individuals engaging in misleading conduct through utilising the
internet as the internet involved telephonic services.
In an increasingly technologically reliant community, most
businesses will promote their products and/or potential business
opportunities through the internet. This case is a timely reminder
to businesses that they need to ensure all website content is
accurate and therefore does not mislead or deceive consumers to
enter a transaction based on inaccurate or blatantly false
information and that those representations can be stopped by the
ACCC for the purpose of protecting both the Australian consumer and
the overseas consumer.
Published: 17 October 2011
The assistance of Melissa Corbutt, Solicitor, of Addisons in
the preparation of this article is noted and greatly
1Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission v Sensaslim Australia Pty Ltd (in Liquidation) (No 1)
 FCA 1012 2World Play Services Pty Ltd v Australian Competition
and Consumer Commission (2005) 143 FCR 345
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