THE NEW AUSTRALIAN CONSUMER LAW
Friday, November 26, 2010
From 1 January 2011, Australia will have a single, national consumer law: the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). At the same time, the name of the Trade Practices Act 1974 will change to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Members will need to be familiar with the new legislation.
Laws to apply the ACL as a law of each State and Territory have been introduced into parliament or enacted in the following jurisdictions: Queensland (Bill); Tasmania (Bill); Victoria (Act); Western Australia (Bill); South Australia (Bill) Northern Territory (Bill) and Australian Capital Territory (Bill).
The WA Government is committed to implementing the ACL. However, the WA Government has decided to adopt the ACL through a slightly different mechanism to ensure that the WA Parliament has the opportunity to consider any changes to the ACL before they are made. This reflects previous WA Government practice for other national legislative schemes-such as the recent national law on Registration and Accreditation of health professions.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) replaces 20 existing Federal, State and Territory laws with one national law. The ACL is said to represent one of the most significant reforms in the history of Australian consumer protection.
The ACL provides a wide range of enhanced consumer protections and will come into force from 1 January 2011.
The ACL includes:
•a new national unfair contract terms law covering standard form contracts;
•a new national law guaranteeing consumer rights when buying goods and services, which replaces existing laws on conditions and warranties;
•a new national product safety law and enforcement system;
•a new national law for unsolicited consumer agreements, which replaces existing State and Territory laws on 'door-to-door' sales and other direct marketing;
•simple national rules for lay-by agreements; and
•new penalties, enforcement powers and consumer redress options.
The ACL will include Regulations that will provide transitional arrangements to allow businesses to adjust to the new law. These regulations are an important part of the ACL and will assist consumers and businesses to understand their rights and obligations ahead of the 1 January 2011 start date.
Practical information on how businesses can comply with the ACL will be published in a series of regulatory guides. The ADA will continue to place updates on the member website.
Further information about the ACL implementation process is available at:
A publication, The Australian Consumer Law – An introduction-accessible at the site provides a good background to the legislation.
24 November 2010.