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Australian Consumer Law and the General Protection Provisions

This article will give you an insight regarding the Australian Consumer Law (the ACL) and the general protections covered under the same. The ACL applies nationally and in all the States and Territories. The ACL is incorporated in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). The ACL includes:

  • General protections against misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct;
  • Specific protections against unfair practices, including prohibitions against false and misleading representations;
  • Laws relating to consumer guarantees;
  • Product safety laws and enforcement systems; and
  • Penalties, enforcement powers and consumer redress options.

General Protection Provision


Misleading or deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct


The prohibition does not limit itself to the supply of goods or services rather create a broad, economy-wide norm of conduct.

The ACL also prohibits:

  • Conduct which is unconscionable under the common law and equitable principles;
  • Unconscionable conduct in connection with the supply or possible supply of goods or services in consumer transactions; and
  • Unconscionable conduct in some business transactions.

Unfair contract terms


Under the ACL, a term of a standard form consumer contract will be void if the term is unfair.


A consumer contract is a contract for the supply of goods or services or the sale or grant of an interest in land to an individual for predominantly personal, domestic or household use or consumption.


While the term ‘standard form contract’ is undefined, in broad terms it is a contract that is not subjected to negotiation between the parties.


Under the unfair contract term provisions, a term of a standard form consumer contract will be void if the term is unfair. In simplistic terms, a term will be unfair if:


  • The parties’ rights and obligations appearing under the contract, would cause a significant imbalance;
  • The legitimate interests of the party who would gain advantage by the term, does not need such protection; and
  • The party relying on such term will face adverse effects (whether financial or otherwise).

Furthermore, while determining whether the term is unfair or not, the Court needs to check that the particular term in consistent with the contract.

Unfair practices

The ACL contains specific prohibitions against certain false or misleading representations, such as:

  • False or misleading representations about goods and services;
  • Certain types of false or misleading representations made, in trade or commerce, in connection with the sale or grant of an interest in land; and
  • Conduct, in trade or commerce that is liable to mislead the public as to the nature, the manufacturing process, the characteristics, quality or quantity of any goods.

The ACL also prohibits other unfair practices, including:

  • Offering gifts, prizes or other free items with the intention of not providing them with it;
  • Bait advertising – advertising goods or services for supply at a specified price where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person will not be able to offer reasonable quantities of goods or services at that price for a reasonable period, having regard to the nature of the market and the advertisement; and
  • Wrongly accepting payment – accepting payment for goods or services if the person does not intend to supply them, knowing that they can’t supply them or can’t supply them within a reasonable time.

If someone have been cheated you by way of false, deceptive or unconscionable conduct or through unfair contract term, contact immediately to our team of experts at Owen Hodge Lawyers.