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View the latest news in competition and consumer from sources such as the Law Institute Journal, submissions, media releases, blogs and more.

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Joining the Competition and Consumer Section is a great way to stay up to date on this dynamic area of law, meet influential lawyers and shape future legislation.

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View the LIV Competition and Consumer Law Committee charter, legislation information and useful cases.

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What is Competition Law?

Competition Law relates to the legal regulation of markets to protect and encourage competition in Australia.
 
Matters relating to anti-competitive conduct (for example, misuse of market power, horizontal and vertical restraints and resale price maintenance) are regulated under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). For further information and latest media releases from ACCC please visit https://www.accc.gov.au/media/media-releases.

What is Consumer Law?

Consumer law covers misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, consumer guarantees and rights, unfair contracts, product safety law and unsolicited consumer agreements.
 
In Australia, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) applies nationally and in all states and territories, and to all Australian businesses. The ACL is administered by the ACCC and state and territory consumer protection agencies such as Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).
 
Consumers have similar guarantees and rights under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act) in relation to financial products and services.

LIV Competition and Consumer Law Committee

The LIV’s Commercial Law Section has a Competition and Consumer Law Committee which proactively lobbies matters of trade practices and competition law and regularly facilitates guest speakers and submissions.
 

  • Legal Profession Uniform Law

    View fact sheets, precedents, articles and other resources to help you understand how you and your law practice may be affected by the Uniform Law.



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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is a consumer?
    A consumer is someone who purchases goods or services for less than $40,000; or goods that are for personal, domestic or household use or consumption; or vehicles or trailers used to transport goods.
     
    If the goods are purchased in order to be re-supplied as part of product manufacture, the purchaser is not a consumer.
  • What is misleading and deceptive conduct?
    Where representations made are considered misleading and deceptive conduct where the representation is misleading and there is reasonable reliance on it.
     
    The representation is objectively tested by reference to the reaction of hypothetical ordinary, reasonable readers as to what is the dominant message conveyed to them. It is enough for relief to be granted that the statement or advertisement has a tendency to lead such persons into error.
     
    Part 2-1 of the ACL deals with misleading or deceptive conduct.
  • What is a ‘special disability’ as required under the common law for unconscionable conduct?

    Special disability was defined in Blomley v Ryan (1954) 99 CLR 362 as “…poverty or need of any kind, sickness, age, sex, infirmity of body or mind, drunkenness, lack of assistance or explanation where assistance or explanation is necessary.”

  • What is unconscionable conduct under the statutory scheme?
    Statutory unconscionable conduct is a broad prohibition based on a number of factors listed under section 22 of the ACL:
    • relative strengths of bargaining positions
    • requirement to comply with unnecessary conditions
    • ability to understand documents
    • undue influence or unfair tactics
    • amount of equivalent goods
    • extent to which behavior was consistent, compared with other customers
    • acting in good faith
    • commercial conduct when negotiating a contract
    • obligations arising under the contract
    • necessity in protecting the legitimate interests of the supplier
    • financial or non-financial detriment to a party.
  • What is an unfair contract term?
    An unfair contract term is one that:
    • causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations arising under the contract
    • is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the supplier
    • causes financial or non-financial detriment to a party.

    Part 2-3 of the ACL deals with unfair contract terms. Examples of unfair terms are provided in section 25 of the ACL.

  • What do the unfair contract term provisions apply to?
    The provisions apply to ‘standard form’ consumer contracts that are general and not subject to negotiation. They will, however, soon apply to small business contracts.
     
    The laws also apply to a standard form contracts entered into or renewed on or after 12 November 2016 where:
    • it is for the supply of goods or services or the sale or grant of an interest in land
    • at least one of the parties is a small business (employs less than 20 people, including casual employees employed on a regular and systematic basis)
    • the upfront price payable under the contract is no more than $300 000 or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.
  • What are the consumer guarantees?
    The consumer guarantees are:
    • seller must have right to sell the goods
    • goods must conform to their description
    • goods must be fit for their purpose
    • goods must be of acceptable quality, and if sold by sample, correspond to their sample
    • services must be rendered with due care & skill
    • services must be fit for their purpose
    • services must be delivered within reasonable time.
     
  • How are consumer rights enforced?
    The enforcement of consumer rights can involve:
    • applications to VCAT (as small claims under $10,000, or any other claim under the ACL)
    • applications to the Magistrates’ Court
    • Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms
    • Consumer Affairs Victoria
    • ACCC.