The unfair contract terms (UCT) regime can be found in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and was originally brought in to protect consumers in circumstances where there is a large imbalance of power regarding the formulation of contracts. Since 2016 this protection has been extended to small businesses. The regime was slated for further expansion by the Federal Government’s Decision Regulation Impact Statement published on 9 November 2020 following substantial advocacy from the ACCC. It is not yet clear when these changes will be formalised, however the changes and potential impacts will be discussed in this article.
“To trade or not to trade”: ACCC guidelines for small businesses and franchises responding to the impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a climate of vulnerability for small businesses impacted by trading restrictions and unfair business practices. Throughout 2020, small businesses have faced a host of challenges, including threats of eviction, the failure of large companies to pay invoices, requirements for franchisees to pay franchise fees despite trading restrictions, unfair contract terms and anti-competitive conduct. In response, the ACCC has released simplified and accessible guidelines to support small business and franchises impacted by COVID-19.
Collective bargaining to be permitted by Class Exemption for small businesses, franchisees and fuel retailers
It has taken some time, but the ACCC has announced for the first time in October 2020, that they will make a class exemption for small businesses, franchisees and fuel retailers. This will allow them to negotiate as a group with their suppliers/processors, franchisor or fuel wholesaler respectively without having to lodge a notification or seek authorisation from the ACCC.
By Sian Harding, Law Clerk and Alicia Hill, Principal, MST Lawyers The recent decision of Meetfresh Franchising Pty Ltd v Ivanman Pty Ltd  NSWCA 234 was made in the context of a franchising contract dispute in which the Franchisor terminated the franchise agreement as a result of losing access to the right to use…