Fact Sheet 5: Competition and Consumer Protection laws
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 deals with most aspects of commercial dealings, including those with (and between) suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, competitors and consumers. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 is enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 deal with anti-competitive conduct. Broadly speaking, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 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 (i.e. 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 Competition and Consumer Act 2010. 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
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 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 direct selling and multi-level marketing businesses.
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 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 Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Please refer to the ACCC’s website www.accc.gov.au for further details.