Australia: Competition and Consumer Law - What's News - 25 May 2016

In the media

National

Federal Court finds free range labelling by Swan Valley, Wanneroo Free Range and Eggs by Ellah branded eggs misleading
The Federal Court has found that Snowdale Holdings Pty Ltd (Snowdale) made false or misleading representations that its eggs were "free range" in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. Snowdale also promoted its eggs as "free range" on the Eggs by Ellah website from May 2013 (18 May 2016).  More...

Private training provider to repay millions over bogus enrolments
Careers Australia admits breaking consumer law by signing up vulnerable students under false pretences, and will pay back $44 million it received in government-backed training loans (16 May 2016).  More...

Federal Court Orders $230,000 Fine From The Community Network
The Federal Court of Australia has ordered payment of penalties totally $230,000 from Multimedia International Services Pty Ltd. The company, which traded as the Community Network, was found in breach of the Australian Consumer Law in its dealings with small businesses (16 May 2016).  More...

Fonterra gives struggling dairy farmers early cash as the ACCC investigates
The ACCC is investigating the cuts by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra to determine if they involve "misleading conduct" or whether there are elements of "unconscionable conduct". The ACCC is interested in the timing and notice of the cuts, the period in which farmers have been given to consider their options and all of this against the backdrop of supply arrangements that place a lot of risk on farmers (16 May 2016).  More...

Peter Foster banned for life from weight loss, franchise industries and managing corporations
The Federal Court has ordered a $3.55 million penalty against SensaSlim Australia Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (SensaSlim) for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct and making false representations. Mr Foster was ordered to pay $660,000, the maximum penalty for each of the contraventions found by the court for being knowingly concerned or a party to some of the conduct. (12 May 2016).   More...

Mecon Insurance Pty Ltd and Mechanical and Construction Insurance Pty Ltd - Court action
Two related insurance companies have agreed to refund customers and pay costs of $20,000 for engaging in price exploitation and misleading and deceptive conduct, following proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria (10 May 2016).  More...

In practice and courts, published reports

Australian Consumer Law Review- Submissions Close 27 May
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is encouraging NSW consumers, businesses and other interested parties to contribute to the current review of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The review of the ACL formally commenced on 31 March 2016 with the release of an Issues Paper. Submissions are due by 27 May 2016.  More...  More...

Productivity Commission: Draft IP Report
The Draft Productivity Commission Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements, released today, is consistent with the recommendations made by the Harper Panel in relation to IP. It considers current competition law exemptions relating to licensing or assignment of IP property and exemptions from the National Access Regime. Submissions on the draft report can be made until 3 June. A final report is expected in August.  More....

Cases

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Snowdale Holdings Pty Ltd [2016] FCA 541
CONSUMER LAW – eggs were sold and marketed as "free range eggs" – hens housed in very large sheds with pop holes – whether the conditions in which the laying hens were found inhibited the ability and propensity of the hens to move around freely on an open range – whether most hens moved around freely on an open range on most days – whether the conduct of the respondent was  misleading  or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive in describing the eggs laid by hens farmed in the prevailing conditions as "free range eggs" – whether the respondent contravened ss 18, 29 and 33 of the Australian Consumer Law.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd (No 2) [2016] FCA 528
TRADE PRACTICES – competition law – restrictive trade practices – admitted contraventions of s 45(2) of Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) – whether order sought by consent appropriate in the circumstances – whether proposed pecuniary penalty appropriate.  Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (Cth); Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) ss 45, 45A, 76, 86C.

Auguste v Nikolyn Pty Ltd & Anor [2016] FCCA 1045
CONSUMER PROTECTION – Misleading and deceptive conduct – building contract – whether representation as to time for building work to be completed – no representation – implied term that work to be undertaken in a reasonable time – work undertaken in a reasonable time – application dismissed.
CONTRACT – Building contract – where contract did not stipulate price for part of the work to be undertake – additional work undertaken not part of the contract – claim for reasonable remuneration for work and labour done.  

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v SensaSlim Australia Pty Ltd (in liq) (No 7) [2016] FCA 484
CONSUMER LAW – contraventions of consumer protection provisions in Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) and the Australian Consumer Law – corporate and personal respondents – misrepresentations as to involvement of personal respondents in franchise system – misrepresentations as to standard and quality of weight loss product – misrepresentations as to prospective earnings of franchise – pecuniary penalties – disqualification orders – injunctions. 

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Multimedia International Services Pty Ltd (No 2) [2016] FCA 490
CONSUMER LAW – pecuniary penalties – application for extension of time to pay penalty – application for payment of penalty by instalments – circumstances in which payment of penalties should be delayed or ordered to be paid by instalments - Australian Consumer Law (Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)).  

Legislation - Commonwealth

Competition and Consumer Act 2010 - Declaration No. 94
This instrument declares Kingsford Smith Airport for the purpose of section 95X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (11 May 2016). 

Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Declaration 2016
This declaration recognises complementary laws enacted by New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory (10 May 2016). 

Bills

Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Bill 2016
Lapsed at dissolution 09 May 2016. This Bill complements the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 (made under the ACL) which will come into effect from 1 July 2016.

Legislation 

Victoria

Acts assented to

No 23: Consumer Acts and Other Acts Amendment Act 2016
Assent: 10/05/2016 SG (No. 137) 10/5/2016 p. 1
Commencement: NYP Not yet in operation:  Ss1-46.   More...

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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Authors
Ian Robertson
 
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