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ACCC’S 2016 Compliance and Enforcement Policy

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By Jack Newton, Lawyer, MST Lawyers

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) has released its 2016 Compliance and Enforcement Policy. This document, released every year, details the ACCC’s prioritisation of areas for compliance and enforcement over the next year.

In 2016, the ACCC will give priority to:

  • consumer guarantees, with particular focus on:
    • large retailers and their extended warranties; and
    • car retailers and manufacturers;
  • industry codes, such as the Franchising Code, the Food and Grocery Code and the new Horticulture Code;
  • the new unfair contracts regime for small businesses;
  • product recalls of unsafe products;
  • consumer protection of vulnerable and/or disadvantaged consumers (focusing on the elderly consumers and consumers who have recently arrived in Australia);
  • the agriculture sector;
  • health and medical sectors, including health claims and the health insurance industry;
  • cartel conduct and its impact on government procurement; and
  • scams.

Of particular importance to many of our¬†clients will be the ACCC’s focus on the new unfair contract regime for small businesses (see https://www.mst.com.au/small-business-unfair-contracts-regime/) as well as the ACCC’s continued focus on Franchising Code compliance.

All businesses, including franchisors, must ensure that, before November 2016, they have sought advice on their standard form contracts. A failure to do so may expose the business to a heightened risk of disputes, which may end with a term or terms being declared unfair. 

As always, franchisors must keep Franchising Code compliance in mind at all times. A failure to do so may lead to ACCC scrutiny and may include enforcement action which (as of 1 January 2015) includes civil penalties of $54,000.

For more information or to discuss your regulatory and compliance concerns (including Franchising Code compliance) please contact our Corporate Advisory team by email at corporate@mst.com.au or by telephone +61 3 8540 0200.