Consumer Law & new civil penalties

The first part of the reforms to consumer law via the Australian Consumer Law Bill 2009 received Royal Assent and commenced on 15 April 2010, amending the Trade Practices Act 1974 and Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.

The change has been to introduce civil penalties as opposed to criminal penalties of up to $1.1 million against corporations and $220,000 against individuals who make false or misleading representations or engage in unconscionable conduct.

The benefit of this approach is the standard of proof is the civil standard (“balance of probabilities”), however, now monetary penalties can be imposed in addition to the usual civil remedies.

The second part of the reforms dealing with unfair contract terms will come into effect on 1 July 2010.

Brisbane Barrister – David Cormack

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