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Enhancing consumer protections – recommendations from the Productivity Commission

29 May 2017
Kelly Dickson Paul Kirton
Read Time 2 mins reading time

The Productivity Commission has recently released a Research Report (Report) relating to the effectiveness of the administration and enforcement of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The Report highlights a complexity of the consumer law framework, in that 10 different State and Territory agencies and specialist safety regulators administer and enforce its provisions. Whilst these regulators do communicate and collaborate to fulfil the objectives of the ACL, differences in enforcement priorities and powers, as well as limited resources in some cases have been the subject of criticism.  Another issue observed is lack of consumer clarity about which regulator to contact for a particular problem.

More generally, the Report makes various recommendations to improve the administration and enforcement of the ACL, including:

  • centralising Federally the powers for interim product bans and compulsory recalls;
  • developing a national database of consumer intelligence, inspection and compliance activities;
  • developing a set of consistent performance and reporting measures relating to regulator activities;
  • providing all state and territory regulators with a full suite of enforcement powers;
  • increasing the maximum financial penalties available for ACL breaches (which are currently capped at $1.1 million per contravention for companies);
  • nationally consistent laws on electrical goods safety for state and territory governments;
  • establishing an independent review of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; and
  • improving the transparency of the regulator’s resourcing and performance.

The outcomes and recommendations of the Report will be considered by the Consumer Affairs Minister later this year and we will provide a further update on this when it becomes available.

If you have any questions or would like more information about any consumer law issues including potential misleading and deceptive claims, unfair terms or product recalls, please contact Paul Kirton or Kelly Dickson.

stay up to date with our news & insights

Enhancing consumer protections – recommendations from the Productivity Commission

29 May 2017
Kelly Dickson Paul Kirton

The Productivity Commission has recently released a Research Report (Report) relating to the effectiveness of the administration and enforcement of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The Report highlights a complexity of the consumer law framework, in that 10 different State and Territory agencies and specialist safety regulators administer and enforce its provisions. Whilst these regulators do communicate and collaborate to fulfil the objectives of the ACL, differences in enforcement priorities and powers, as well as limited resources in some cases have been the subject of criticism.  Another issue observed is lack of consumer clarity about which regulator to contact for a particular problem.

More generally, the Report makes various recommendations to improve the administration and enforcement of the ACL, including:

  • centralising Federally the powers for interim product bans and compulsory recalls;
  • developing a national database of consumer intelligence, inspection and compliance activities;
  • developing a set of consistent performance and reporting measures relating to regulator activities;
  • providing all state and territory regulators with a full suite of enforcement powers;
  • increasing the maximum financial penalties available for ACL breaches (which are currently capped at $1.1 million per contravention for companies);
  • nationally consistent laws on electrical goods safety for state and territory governments;
  • establishing an independent review of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; and
  • improving the transparency of the regulator’s resourcing and performance.

The outcomes and recommendations of the Report will be considered by the Consumer Affairs Minister later this year and we will provide a further update on this when it becomes available.

If you have any questions or would like more information about any consumer law issues including potential misleading and deceptive claims, unfair terms or product recalls, please contact Paul Kirton or Kelly Dickson.