What is the Australian Consumer Law?
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is a law that applies to all Australian states and territories. It came into effect on 1 January 2011 and replaced the former Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA). The ACL is found under Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
How does the Australian Consumer Law protect consumers?
The ACL protects consumers by ensuring fair practices between consumers and businesses. The ACL automatically implies a number of “consumer guarantees” into sale and purchase agreements between an individual and a business. These consumer guarantees are promises made by businesses and give rise to remedies under the ACL where they are not met. These statutory guarantees already existed under the TPA, but have been extended to better protect the interests of consumers.
No business can contract out of a consumer guarantee. This means that if your contract contains a term that is inconsistent with a consumer guarantee under the ACL, then that term will not be enforceable. For example, “no refund” signs or signs that say “no refund on sale items” are unlawful as they mislead consumers into thinking that refunds will not be given even if the store has breached a consumer guarantee.
Does the Australian Consumer Law apply to me?
For the ACL to apply, the following four conditions must be met:
- The purchase must have been made on or after 1 January 2011. This means that if you bought an item or paid for a service before 1 January 2011, you will not be protected by the ACL and will need to look at the TPA;
- You are a consumer. This means that if you bought with the intention to on-sell or re-distribute or as part of your business, then you will not be protected;
- You are purchasing from a business, supplier or manufacturer. This means that if you bought from a private seller, including a seller at a garage sale or auction, then neither the ACL nor the TPA will apply. On the other hand, if you purchase from someone selling in their ordinary trade or commerce, even if you are purchasing second-hand or leased goods, you will be protected; and
- The purchase is for:
- a good or service costing less than $40,000;
- a good or service costing more than $40,000 but which is normally used for
- domestic or private purposes; or
- a vehicle or trailer of any cost.
What are the main consumer guarantees applying to goods?
- That the goods are of acceptable quality.
- That the goods are reasonably fit for their ordinary purpose or the purpose for which they are bought as told by the buyer to the seller.
- That the goods fit the description on their labelling or match the sample or demonstration provided.
- That the seller will meet any express warranties made to the buyer.
- That the goods will last for a reasonable time, and where they do not, that the seller will take reasonable steps to repair the goods within a reasonable time after purchase.
What are the consumer guarantees applying to services?
- That the service provider will provide services with due skill and care.
- That the services provided are fit for the purpose specified.
- That the services are provided within a reasonable time, or where a due date is agreed, by the due date.