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New consumer contract laws enforced by ACCC today

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today announced new law to offer greater protection to consumers in the coming financial year.

From today, the ACCC and other agencies will enforce new national laws designed to protect consumers from contract terms which are unfair, offering a remedy for situations where customers cannot effectively bargain and are only presented with a ‘take it or leave it’ option.

Under the new law a court can deem a particular contract to be unfair, in which case the contract is not binding. The contract will be upheld, however, if it can continue without the offending term.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said that the new laws were designed to help consumers negotiate a fair contract when they were unable to do so themselves.

“Phone, internet, gym, power and travel – everyone has entered into a standard form contract at some stage.

“The unfair contract laws marks the start of new era for consumer protection in Australia as the ACCC, ASIC and all states and territories will be cooperating in the enforcement of a common law.

To help businesses adopt to their new obligations under the law, the ACCC has released two publications which overview the new provisions. The pair build upon the previously released A guide to the unfair contract terms law.