Changes to the Australian Consumer Laws – Part 1 – Overview

A number of changes have been made to the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA) as Australian Consumer Law (ACL) reforms have been progressively implemented, with the final portion commencing on 1 January 2011. In addition to these changes the TPA has been renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA). This is the first in a series of blogs summarising the changes and the implications for businesses operating in Australia. The new ACL is aimed at simplifying the law and reducing business compliance burdens by replacing provisions set out in 20 existing national, State and Territory laws with a single national consumer law. Furthermore, the ACL creates a national enforcement regime, with consistent enforcement powers for Australia’s consumer protection agencies to take effective action for consumers. The ACL introduces a number of new protections for consumers. These include:

  • new consumer guarantees,
  • new prohibitions on specific false and misleading representations,
  • a new regime prohibiting unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contracts,
  • new mandatory reporting requirements and
  • a single national product safety regime.

 The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also been given additional enforcement powers in respect of consumer protection contraventions. Other changes include new definitions of “consumer” and “consumer goods”, and new laws in regard to unsolicited consumer agreements, lay-by sales and providing receipts and itemised bills. Existing prohibitions against misleading conduct, unconscionable conduct and false and misleading representations are largely unchanged in substance and are still found in the ACL.With Max Ezerins