HR Update: ACCC internet sweep targets online
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC) has joined the International Consumer
Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and has
recently undertaken an information gathering sweep of the internet,
targeted at online traders who may use confusing or misleading
website terms to avoid their obligations to consumers.
How it affects you
The ACCC sweep focussed on consumers' rights to have faulty
products or substandard services repaired, replaced or refunded.
The ACCC targeted how online traders represent consumers'
particular relating to repair, replacement or refund rights under
the Australian Consumer Law. ACCC has indicated its
intention to crack down on website terms which may confuse or
mislead consumers into believing that any relevant rights do not
In January 2011 the Federal Government overhauled
Australia's consumer laws, which are now contained in the
Australian Consumer Law. If you trade in an online
business that operates in Australia then you need to be aware of
the requirements of the Australian Consumer Law. There are
significant penalties for traders who contravene these
Under the Australian Consumer Law consumers have the
right to ask for a repair, replacement or refund of substandard
services sold or goods sold that are faulty, do not do what they
are supposed to do or do not match the description provided.
These statutory consumer guarantees cannot be excluded and will
apply despite what is contained in website terms and
If your website terms and conditions may be taken to confuse or
mislead consumers about their rights under the Australian
Consumer Law then you may be in breach of the law.
What to do
With the ACCC's crack down on online trading terms, it is
more important than ever to review your website terms and
conditions to ensure they are up to date and comply with the
Australian Consumer Law.
Your online business may be at risk if you do not ensure that
your website terms and conditions comply with the Australian
Consumer Law. If you are found to be in breach of the
Australian Consumer Law you may suffer harsh penalties,
including fines of up to $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million
If you already have website terms and conditions we can
undertake a review using our review checklist and methodology. If
you do not have any terms and conditions, we can assist in
preparing appropriate terms and conditions, which are tailored to
your business' needs, address liability and risk issues (among
others) and ensure compliance with the Australian Consumer
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 recently enacted National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (National Credit Act) establishes a new national licensing regime for the regulation of consumer credit in Australia. The new regime includes a licensing requirement. If you currently engage in a credit activity, such as providing credit or advice in relation to credit, you may need to register with ASIC before 30 June 2010. Failure to register in time will result in you being required to cease the credit activities as of 1 July 2
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