Be careful – consumer law penalties are set to increase!

Recently, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 3) Bill 2018 (Cth) passed both houses of parliament, implementing changes to the maximum financial penalties for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.   This gives effect to the proposals set out in the final report on the Australian Consumer Law Review conducted by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand in April 2017.

This means that the current financial penalties of a maximum $1.1 million for companies will be increased to the greater of:

  • AUD $10 million;
  • 3 times the value of the benefit received by the company (including any affiliates) from the offence that led to the penalty; or
  • if the benefit cannot be determined by the court, then 10% of the annual turnover of the company in the past 12 months (calculated as the 12 month period ending at the month in which the company committed or began committing the offence).

The maximum penalty for individuals will also now increase from $220,000 to $500,000.

The increase in penalties is again a timely reminder for organisations to ensure that they have appropriate consumer law compliance programs in place including in relation to marketing and advertising campaigns that retailers may implement.

For more information on the final report of the Australian Consumer Law Review and the other recommendations contained in the report, please see DLA Piper’s previous update here.

This blog was co-authored by Claire Kermond, Jessie Buchan and Melinda Upton. 

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