Consumer Protection Law
Have your rights as a consumer been breached?
If you have been sold a product or service that does not meet up to your expectations, it is important that you know your consumer rights to ensure you get the product or service that you paid for, or alternatively, that you receive fair compensation from the supplier when they have failed to meet your reasonable expectations.
What is the Australian Consumer Law?
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which is the uniform legislation governing consumer rights and protection laws in Australia.
There are other pieces of legislation that may assist in addition or instead of the ACL, including the Sale of Goods Act, Fair Trading Act, ASIC Act and more.
The ACL is arguably one of the most powerful pieces of consumer protection legislation to ever have come into existence. The provisions of the ACL operate on a national level and apply to matters involving the sale of goods and services in every State and Territory in Australia.
This involves most business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) transactions.
Generally speaking, a business cannot contract out of the Australian Consumer Law.
Who does the Australian Consumer Law apply to?
The ACL is a national law that exists to protect all consumers.
The primary objective of the ACL is to ensure individuals and businesses involved in all different aspects of trade and commerce abide by and follow fair sales practices, and to verify that all consumers can expect to be offered fair contract terms, basic consumer guarantees, reasonable product safety warranties and all other fundamental consumer rights each and every time they acquire a good or service.
Although the ACL generally governs the conduct of corporations in relation to the provision of goods or services to consumers, obligations under the ACL can also apply directly to individuals.
Examples of situations where an individual may be held directly liable for the breach of a particular provision under the ACL can include (but is not limited to) situations where:
- An employee or agent of a company has intentionally provided misleading or deceptive information about a product or service to a consumer;
- An employee or agent of a company has unintentionally provided inaccurate information about a certain product or service to a consumer that influences the consumer’s decision to acquire the good or service; or
- A director of a company may be considered “a person involved in” the contravention of a provision under the ACL in some circumstances.
The provisions of the Australian Consumer Law that are typically disputed the most include claims involving misleading and deceptive conduct and claims that concern defective or unsafe goods or services.
What are Consumer Guarantees?
Consumer guarantees are an important part of Australia’s general fair trading and consumer protection laws. Under the ACL, consumer guarantees broadly refer to an extensive set of rules that apply to the supply of goods and services to consumers in the course of trade or commerce.
Many consumer guarantees are automatically provided to the consumer with any sale of a product or service, and as such, businesses have various automatic obligations as a provider of a product or service. Some of these obligations may include (but are not limited to) ensuring the following:
Supply of Products
- The product is of acceptable quality;
- The product is fit for the purpose to which the consumer intends to use it;
- The product has been accurately described; and
- The product satisfies any express warranties
Supply of Services
- The service is provided with due care and skill;
- The service is fit for any express or implied specified purpose; and
- The service is provided within a reasonable time
Need a Lawyer?
If you have any questions regarding any of our services, or just need a question answered about a consumer dispute, then make an enquiry and our Litigation team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.
Exceptions to Consumer Guarantees
Certain fundamental consumer guarantees will generally not apply in circumstances where a consumer:
- Changes their mind about the purchase of a product (i.e. they wish to return the product in order to purchase it from a different manufacturer at a lower price);
- Has misused a product in a way that has caused unreasonable damage to the product that would not otherwise have occurred if they had used the product correctly;
- Was informed about a defect to the product before they purchased it;
- Explicitly requested a service to be performed in a specific way against the advice of the supplier of the service; or
- Was unclear or vague about the way they intended to use a particular product or service, and the product or service subsequently failed to meet their expectations.
How we can help
When a consumer dispute arises, it is important to adopt the correct strategy early on in order to limit or avoid losses. Identifying the best strategy for your particular matter can be complex – particularly in circumstances where a business is involved in a matter involving product recalls or class action lawsuits.
At Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers, we fight vigorously for our clients’ rights and protections. We act for both consumers and businesses in a number of complex and high-value matters, and our lawyers have the skill and determination to get you the results you deserve.
Contact us to discuss your specific Consumer Protection dispute and learn how we can help.
Do you need a Consumer Protection Lawyer?
We offer a no cost, obligation-free, initial consultation to assess the strength of your case.