Following a review of standard form consumer contracts in the
airline, telecommunications, fitness and vehicle rental industries,
as well some used by online traders and travel agents, the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC) recently released their findings in its
report "Unfair contract terms – industry review
The review was conducted in the context of the national unfair
contract terms laws, introduced as part of the Australian Consumer
Law which came into effect on 1 July 2010. Under these laws, a
court may determine that a term of a standard form consumer
contract is unfair and therefore void. However, it is important to
note that these laws have not yet been tested in the courts.
In most cases, businesses amended or deleted terms identified by
the ACCC as 'operating unfairly', were terms that:
allow the business to change the contract without consent from
cause confusion about agency arrangements and seek to unfairly
absolve the agent from liability;
unfairly restrict the consumer's right to terminate the
terms that suspend or terminate services being provided to the
consumer under the contract;
make the consumer liable for things ordinarily outside of their
prevent the consumer from relying on representations made by
the business or its agents;
seek to limit consumer guarantee rights; and
remove a consumer's credit card chargeback rights when
buying the service through an agent.
The ACCC is considering whether further actions are warranted
against businesses that did not change their standard form
contracts to address problematic terms, with the possibility of
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the report marks the end of the
compliance emphasis and the transition to a more enforcement
focused approach dealing with unfair contract terms.
Hunt & Hunt can assist businesses undertake a comprehensive
review of their standard form consumer contracts to ensure that the
contractual arrangements in place with their customers are
consistent with the new national unfair contract provisions.
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 Sportscraft refunds and returns policy limitations went beyond consumer's rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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