Safety Compliance Pty Ltd (Safety Compliance), which went into liquidation in 2012, has been found guilty of misleading or deceptive conduct directed at small businesses.
As a result of proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Federal Court declared that Safety Compliance had contravened Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), which is now known as the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, by misleading small businesses to believe they were required by law to maintain safety wall charts and first aid kits.
Three respondents associated with Safety Compliance, Dean King, Fiona Schimmel and Shane Black, were found to have been knowingly concerned in telling small businesses that they would have to buy their safety wall charts if they were to comply with workplace health and safety laws. They were also found to have falsely represented that Safety Compliance was in some way affiliated with an official state or territory workplace and safety agency.
In addition, the Court found that Safety Compliance had misleadingly informed individual franchisees of an unnamed franchise group that the franchisor had agreed to purchase Safety Compliance products, when this was never agreed upon.
“This is an important outcome, as small businesses operators generally take their health and safety obligations very seriously but can often be time poor and susceptible to telemarketers promoting products relating to workplace health and safety,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
The ACCC seeks pecuniary penalties, injunctions, costs and disqualification orders banning them from being able to manage corporations in the future. The Court will determine the relief at a later date.