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ACCC gets new Australian Consumer Law powers

The ACCC has been equipped with greater powers to protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses, with first part of the Australian Consumer Law coming into effect today.

Australian Consumer Law“The new law provides a more responsive national approach, through which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be able to deal more effectively with matters that affect many consumers, particularly vulnerable consumers,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.

Under the new legislation the ACCC can seek financial penalties of up to $1.1 million for corporations and $220,000 for individuals in civil cases for unconscionable conduct, pyramid selling and sections of the law dealing with false or misleading conduct.

“The ACCC will now be able to use substantiation notices to require traders to justify claims they make about products they promote. Examples could include was/now advertising and claims about food, health, environmental impact and business opportunities.” Mr Samuel said.

“Where the ACCC has reasonable grounds, it may now issue an infringement notice in cases of suspected unconscionable conduct, some false or misleading conduct, pyramid selling and various product safety provisions. Infringement notices will enable the ACCC to respond quickly to alleged breaches of these parts of the law and help facilitate a quick resolution of ACCC concerns with traders.” Mr Samuel said.

“Infringement notice penalties for false or misleading, unconscionable conduct, pyramid selling and breaches of product safety provisions are $6,600 for corporations and $1,320 for individuals.” Mr Samuel said.

“Vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers will particularly benefit from the ACCC’s new ability to seek redress through the courts for consumers who are not included in a particular legal action. For example, the ACCC could ask the court to order an unscrupulous trader to provide refunds to consumers affected by misleading conduct.” Mr Samuel said.

The Federal Government had foreshadowed further amendments to the Australian Consumer Law later this year. With unfair contract terms covered in the new legislation, and these coming into effect on 1 July 2010.

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David Olsen

David Olsen

An undercover economist and a not so undercover geek. Politics, business and psychology nerd and anti-bandwagon jumper. Can be found on Twitter: <a href="http://www.twitter.com/DDsD">David Olsen - DDsD</a>

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