The Australian Consumer Law
The Australian Consumer Law or ACL is made to apply nationally and across South Australia. It deals with all matters involving safe products; fair contracts dealings and safe sales practices that must be observed by all Australian states and territories covered by national laws on Consumer Protection and Fair Trading.
The law took effect on 1 January 2011. The law covers national legislations which provide uniform regulations with regards to unfair terms of contract; provides standard form of consumer contracts; guarantees consumer rights when buying goods and services; ensures product safety and enforcement systems; provides rules for lay-by agreements and the rules in the exercise of the authority and the enforcement of consumer remedial rights.
The law also provides for the uniform standards of conduct, protection, obligations and responsibilities to all consumers over the business community in Australia. The Productivity Commission believed that the ACL reforms could bring about benefits to Australian community between $1.5 billion to $4.5 billion a year.
The ACL is expected to replace about 20 consumer legislations in Australia. In South Australia, it will have impact particularly on laws relating to fair trading and consumer protection laws like:
· Fair Trading Act 1987 (SA)
· Consumer Transactions Act 1972 (SA)
· Manufacturers Warranties Act 1974 (SA)
· Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth): Parts IVA, V, VA and VC
It is enforced and administered by the following agencies:
· Consumer and Business Services or CBS. Consumer and Business Services he new name for the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs. It is a division of the Attorney General’s Department within the South Australian Government’s Justice Portfolio. The CBS will assist consumers with their complaints involving goods and services which are advertised and purchased in South Australia.
· Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. It helps in the promotion of business and trade competition and fair trade practices in the market place to benefit consumers, business and the community.
· Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Act as a support to financial markets and financial services providing for fair and transparent practices for well-informed investors and consumers.
The benefits of ACL
The enforcement of a single legislation will bring harmony, unity and simplicity in the enforcement of consumer rights in Australia. It would be easier for the administering agencies to take action and implement the provisions of the law eliminating complex and obscure interpretations. In addition, the Courts and Tribunals can adopt uniform rules and procedure in the enforcement of consumer laws and provisions protecting consumer rights.