Australian Consumer Law Amendments

Treasury has released for consultation exposure draft legislation to amend the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

UPDATE: The Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Bill 2018 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 28 March 2018.

UPDATE: Bill passed and assented 25 October 2018.

The Bill will amend the ASIC Act, ACL and the Competition and Consumer Act to clarify and strengthen consumer protections relating to financial services, consumer guarantees, voluntary recalls, unsolicited consumer agreements, product safety, false billing, unconscionable conduct, pricing and unfair contract terms.

Amongst other things the amendments:
• ensure that the terminology used in the consumer protection provisions in the ASIC Act relating to land are consistent with similar provisions in the ACL ;
• clarify that the ACL-related consumer protections that apply to financial services also apply to financial products under the ASIC Act. This will ensure that consumer protections under both the ACL and ASIC Act apply to both goods and services;
• remove the exception for listed public companies from the unconscionable conduct provisions in the ACL and the ASIC Act;
• ensure that the unsolicited services provisions include services that were not actually supplied (eg “fake invoices”);
• clarify that the unsolicited selling protections apply where the unsolicited sale occurs in a public place or the dealer could have entered the place without the consumer’s invitation;
• enhance price transparency by requiring that additional fees or charges associated with pre-selected options are included in the headline price;
• enable regulators to use investigative powers to better assess whether or not contract terms are unfair;
• clarify the scope of consumer guarantees where goods are transported or stored.

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