Included on this page is a document issued by the ACCC to assist consumers with the new consumer legislation that takes full affect from July 1st.

Australian consumer law

One national consumer law based on the consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 will be developed. The new law will also include:
  • best practice from existing State and Territory legislation, including unfair contract terms
  • national product safety regulation
  • new consumer guarantees
  • new penalty, enforcement and redress provisions.
There will be joint enforcement of the law by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and State and Territory fair trading/consumer affairs agencies. There are two phases to the implementation of the new law.

A number of national reform projects agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will affect laws currently administered by NSW Fair Trading and will take effect between 1 July 2010 and 1 July 2013.
COAG is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. It comprises the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). Its role is to initiate, develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms that are of national significance and which require co-operative action by Australian governments.

Commencement date

1 July 2010 – unfair contract terms
1 January 2011 – the remaining provisions as listed above.

Responsibility for regulating consumer credit and finance broking will be transferred to the Commonwealth. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will administer the legislation.
Products that will be regulated under the national credit regime include home loans, personal loans, credit cards, consumer leases, overdrafts and line of credit accounts, among other products and services.
NSW Fair Trading will continue to regulate consumer credit until 30 June 2010. NSW Fair Trading will continue to administer its finance broking legislation until 1 January 2011 and the maximum annual percentage rate until 1 July 2011.

National product safety system

A single national system for the management of product safety in Australia will be developed and implemented. The new national product safety laws will commence as part of the implementation of the Australian Consumer Law. The laws will be jointly administered and enforced by the ACCC, NSW Fair Trading and the other State and Territory fair trading/consumer affairs agencies.
NSW Fair Trading will continue to regulate product safety until 31 December 2010.

Commencement date

1 January 2011

Copy and past the following website in the address box and answer the following questions This is a link to audio files explaining the new unfair contract laws. This is a link to the printed version of the audio files.

You may wish to listen to the files and then view the printed version. (especially if you are an audio learner )

A Guide to the Unfair Contract Terms Law

1. When was the first part of the Australian Consumer Law passed? What is it called?

2. What is new about the new legislation?

3. Briefly outline the 7 features of unfair contract term laws.

4. Discuss the features of a contract.

5. Outline the differences between an ACL contract and a contract under the ASIC Act.

6. Define a ‘standard form contract’.

7. Explain the exemptions under the standard form consumer contracts.

8. Explain the meaning of ‘unfair’.

9. On pages 15 to 22 of the document there are some examples of unfair contract terms. List key points of each example.

10. Who is responsible for enforcing unfair contracts for:

i. consumer goods and services
ii. financial products and financial services

11. Explain the role of the courts in relation to unfair contracts.

12. Explain the powers of the ACCC and ASIC to apply to the courts to seek remedies for breach of the ACL and ASIC Act.