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Fact Sheet 5 – Competition and Consumer Protection Laws

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CC Act) deals with most aspects of commercial dealings, including those with (and between) suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, competitors and consumers. The CC Act is enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Competition

The competition provisions of the CC Act deal with anti‑competitive conduct. Broadly speaking, the Act prohibits the following market conduct:

  • contracts, arrangements and understandings that would substantially lessen competition or contain exclusionary provisions or a cartel provision; mergers and acquisitions that would substantially lessen competition;
  • misuse of market power;
  • exclusive dealing, including third line forcing (for example, when a supplier places a condition on the supply of its goods or services that the customer must acquire goods or services of a particular type from a third person nominated by the supplier); and
  • resale price maintenance.

Companies should be mindful of the cartel provisions of the CC Act. Cartel provisions in contracts, arrangements or understandings between parties that are, or would otherwise be, in competition with each other may involve:

  • price fixing;
  • restricting outputs in the production and supply chain;
  • allocating customers, suppliers or territories; and/or
  • bid‑rigging.

Consumer protection

The CC Act also contains the Australian Consumer Law. It contains a range of consumer protection provisions which, among other things:

  • prohibit misleading and deceptive conduct;
  • invalidates unfair terms in standard form consumer contracts;
  • provide statutory consumer guarantees for goods and services;
  • set out Australia’s product safety regime; and
  • regulates unsolicited selling practices.

Consumer protections applying to financial products and services are generally mirrored in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.

The CC Act also provides for industry codes of practice and the regulation of industries such as telecommunications, gas, electricity and airports.

Significant penalties apply to breaches of the competition and consumer laws in the CC Act.

Please refer to the ACCC’s website for further details.