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The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently released its ‘Compliance and Enforcement Priorities’ for 2020.

As Australia’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC is responsible for encouraging compliance with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act). It can also take enforcement action in response to breaches of the Act.

Each year, the ACCC publishes its compliance and enforcement priorities, based on an assessment of both existing and emerging issues which impact consumers and industry competition.

2020 priorities

The ACCC has highlighted the following areas as priorities for 2020:

  • Competition and consumer issues in:
      • the funeral services sector
      • the digital sector
      • the pricing/selling of essential services (especially in the energy and telecommunications sectors)
  • Misleading conduct in selling/promoting food products
  • Conduct affecting competition in the commercial construction sector
  • Ensuring the protection of small businesses under competition and consumer laws (especially the Franchising Code of Conduct)
  • Ensuring compliance with the Dairy Code of Conduct
  • Empowering consumers and improving industry compliance with consumer guarantees (especially with respect to high value goods, e.g. motor vehicles, electricals, whitegoods)
  • Pursuing regulatory options to prevent injuries and deaths to children by button batteries
  • Finalising the recall of vehicles with Takata airbags.

A number of these priorities have been carried over from the ACCC’s 2019 priorities (e.g. industry compliance with consumer guarantees and the Franchising Code of Conduct, and conduct impacting competition in commercial construction markets).

On the other hand, some of these priorities have newly shifted onto the ACCC’s radar.

For example, the focus on competition and consumer issues in the funeral services sector has emerged out of funeral businesses long using significant market power to block new entrants, and otherwise engage in unconscionable conduct. Likewise, the Dairy Industry Code of Conduct came into effect on 1 January 2020, and is designed to improve transparency in trading arrangements between dairy farmers and those purchasing their milk.

enduring priorities

There are also certain areas regarded as ‘enduring priorities’ by the ACCC, owing to their continued potential to undermine consumer welfare and the competitive process. These include:

  • Cartel conduct
  • Anti-competitive conduct
  • Product safety
  • Conduct impacting vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers
  • Conduct impacting Indigenous Australians.

It is crucial that businesses are complying with their obligations under the competition and consumer legislative regime in Australia to avoid possible enforcement action by the ACCC. It is also important for both business and consumers to be aware of their rights under the Act.

If your business works in a sector identified by the ACCC as a priority for 2020, or if you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities under the Act, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Trade team.

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looking forward: ACCC priorities for 2020

19 March 2020
greta walters

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently released its ‘Compliance and Enforcement Priorities’ for 2020.

As Australia’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC is responsible for encouraging compliance with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act). It can also take enforcement action in response to breaches of the Act.

Each year, the ACCC publishes its compliance and enforcement priorities, based on an assessment of both existing and emerging issues which impact consumers and industry competition.

2020 priorities

The ACCC has highlighted the following areas as priorities for 2020:

  • Competition and consumer issues in:
      • the funeral services sector
      • the digital sector
      • the pricing/selling of essential services (especially in the energy and telecommunications sectors)
  • Misleading conduct in selling/promoting food products
  • Conduct affecting competition in the commercial construction sector
  • Ensuring the protection of small businesses under competition and consumer laws (especially the Franchising Code of Conduct)
  • Ensuring compliance with the Dairy Code of Conduct
  • Empowering consumers and improving industry compliance with consumer guarantees (especially with respect to high value goods, e.g. motor vehicles, electricals, whitegoods)
  • Pursuing regulatory options to prevent injuries and deaths to children by button batteries
  • Finalising the recall of vehicles with Takata airbags.

A number of these priorities have been carried over from the ACCC’s 2019 priorities (e.g. industry compliance with consumer guarantees and the Franchising Code of Conduct, and conduct impacting competition in commercial construction markets).

On the other hand, some of these priorities have newly shifted onto the ACCC’s radar.

For example, the focus on competition and consumer issues in the funeral services sector has emerged out of funeral businesses long using significant market power to block new entrants, and otherwise engage in unconscionable conduct. Likewise, the Dairy Industry Code of Conduct came into effect on 1 January 2020, and is designed to improve transparency in trading arrangements between dairy farmers and those purchasing their milk.

enduring priorities

There are also certain areas regarded as ‘enduring priorities’ by the ACCC, owing to their continued potential to undermine consumer welfare and the competitive process. These include:

  • Cartel conduct
  • Anti-competitive conduct
  • Product safety
  • Conduct impacting vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers
  • Conduct impacting Indigenous Australians.

It is crucial that businesses are complying with their obligations under the competition and consumer legislative regime in Australia to avoid possible enforcement action by the ACCC. It is also important for both business and consumers to be aware of their rights under the Act.

If your business works in a sector identified by the ACCC as a priority for 2020, or if you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities under the Act, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Trade team.