The ACCC has received 48 complaints about unfair contract terms despite law change

Elizabeth Barry 28 March 2017


The regulator plans to take enforcement action against the companies this year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received 48 complaints from businesses regarding unfair contract terms, despite new legislation coming into effect to combat these issues in November last year.

At the same time that the regulator introduced the new legislation, it published a report called Unfair terms in small business contracts, which looked at 46 contracts across 7 industries and provided an industry-by-industry breakdown on areas likely to cause concern.

Despite this, the ACCC is still investigating complaints about payment terms and unfair commercial practices that have the effect of delaying payment times for suppliers.

Delivering the keynote address at a UNSW forum, ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper spoke about the regulator's plans to take enforcement action in relation to companies over unfair contract terms.

“A number of investigations have been commenced, either in response to issues raised in the ACCC’s recent industry review or as a result of complaints made to the ACCC. Our enforcement teams are looking at a variety of contracts across a range of industries,” he said.

This is the most recent in a string of crackdowns on unfair contract terms since the legislation was introduced. Banks were taken to task over the issue in the small business loans inquiry and more recently, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) teamed up to send a clear message to lenders to make sure their contracts met the new rules.

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