The Competition and Consumer Act 2011 (Cth) (“CCA”) came into operation on 1 January 2011, replacing the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (“TPA”). It forms part of the new Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”).
While the structure of the CCA for the most part mirrors that of the TPA, the Act has imposed significant and numerous changes to Australia’s competition and consumer protection laws. The most important changes are summarised below:
- The name of the Act has changed;
- Administration of the Act is now jointly carried out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the respective State and Territory regulators. The ACCC has also been given a wider range of enforcement powers;
- A unified regime for unfair contract terms has been introduced which operates to void a term in a contract which is deemed unfair (Ch 2, Pt 2-3);
- The sections which deal with unconscionable Conduct (Part IVA) and Consumer Protection (Part V) have been repealed from the body of the Act are now found in Schedule 2 of the CCA;
- There are new provisions which impose statutory guarantees on the supply of all goods and services in Australia (Ch 3, Pt 3-2, Div 1);
- New provisions have been added which govern unsolicited consumer agreements. These agreements are defined as agreements where supply is a result of negotiations between the supplier and the consumer which take place over the telephone or in a place other than the supplier’s place of business without any invitation by the consumer and where the total price payable exceeds $100, or is unascertainable (Ch 3, Pt 3-2, Div 2); and
- New provisions have also been added which relate to product safety, specifically, the ability to place a temporary or permanent ban on goods which are likely to cause injury (Ch 3, Pt 3-3).
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.