Consumer Protection

Principals of the firm have a history of acting in false labelling and product liability matters, in one case defending a client on 21 charges of false labelling in the Federal Court (D.A. Thorp v CA Imports P/L 1989 16 IPR 511). The ACCC (then TPC) was ruthless in its prosecution and overseas ex-Government officials had to be tracked down to offer evidence to assist in the defence of the charges. Working around the clock led to a successful defence of all charges against the client.

Key Consumer Protection Points to Keep in Mind

  • ACCC oversees mandatory product safety and product standards. This can involve prosecutions for non-complying product, recalls and articles being placed on a banned list. Product safety laws allow the regulation of:

– the supply of products that pose a risk to consumers ( through mandatory standards for the design, manufacture and labelling of such products);
– products that pose a risk to consumers ( through interim or permanent bans); and
– recall of consumer products.

  • There are Australian and State laws which prohibit conduct in trade that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to have such a result. False representation or claims could lead to prosecution.
  • Labelling requirements are set out in industry related regulations. There are specific requirements for labelling goods as “Made in Australia” or “Product of Australia”. Misleading or false labelling could lead to prosecution.

There are also a variety of requirements relating to conducting business such as for running competitions, warranties, advertising and anti-competitive practices.

Trade Practices Compliance Program:

Setting up a trade practices compliance program is important in not only reducing the risk of exposure to prosecution by ACCC for non-compliance with the Australia Consumer Law, but also to enable a breach to be quickly identified and corrective action taken. There are a number of components to a compliance program and it is important that it be set up and implemented properly and then conducted in a manner specifically designed to the business activity involved. A voluntary compliance program cannot only enhance business goodwill, but may lead to avoiding hundreds of thousands in legal expenses defending a prosecution by the ACCC and also be a factor taken into consideration in the assessment of penalties.

LincolnConsumer Protection