Fair Trading Laws promote good business and consumer protection. Here are 5 things to know about Fair Trading in Australia to get you started. It’s important to be informed about Fair Trading is essential for any business trader or consumer.
1. They regulate business and consumerism
Fair Trading laws cover a wide range of issues to do with business and consumers. They outline the rights and responsibilities of businesses and purchasers in regards to buying goods and services. They provide guidance for dispute resolutions such as refunds, warranties and other complaints. These laws also deal with buying, selling, and renting homes. Overall, their main purpose is to provide information to ensure everyone complies with the variety of laws that have been set out.
2. Fair trading is covered by State, Federal and International laws
Fair Trading is found in different legislation, across states and internationally. The main federal law in Australia is the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. This Act deals with proper practices in the marketplace (such as product labelling and industry codes of practice) to promote fair business and trade. Next prominent, are state and territory laws which more specifically cover consumer protection and business obligations. You can identify your state or territory legislation here. There are also laws which govern dealings with international parties. Each country has their own set of laws, however there are international organisations that aim to promote fair trading on an international level in general, such as Consumers’ International and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
3. They hear consumer and business complaints
Fair Trading is a regulator that investigates breaches and hears complaints from individuals and businesses. The way they sort through these complaints is from most serious to least serious, although they aim to consider all complaints. Serious complaints such as fraud are placed on the high priority list and dealt with swiftly. This is because they harm consumers. However, Fair Trading hears all kinds of complaints relating to renting, renovating, vehicles, fundraising, product safety, and more. You can make a complaint by finding your matter and filling out a form.
4. They’ll intervene when a breach has occurred
After receiving a complaint, the Fair Trading regulator has to deal with it appropriately. The way in which they do so will depend on the severity of the complaint. The first step is to educate traders and provide guidance on proper practices, to hopefully prevent future breaches. Next will be a formal warning to acknowledge that the trader behaved improperly. These two methods aim to give a business the benefit of the doubt. They also aim to stop businesses from acting unethically. If these are not sufficient, then the Fair Trading regulator will issue a penalty notice and publicly announce their non-compliance. This has shown to be effective in deterring future offences. After this measure comes the more serious punishments. This involves civil or criminal prosecution, court orders, disciplinary action and/or disqualification orders.
5. There’s a public register
You can look up companies that have complaints against them on the Complaints Register. This includes companies that have more than 10 complaints against them, issued by real individuals, within one month. The register provides the name of the company or business, the types of complaints it has received, and the number of complaints received for the past month. The information remains on the website for two years. While this is useful, it’s good to note that larger businesses tend to receive more complaints in general. Complaints could also occur for a number of reasons, such as media attention. However, Fair Trading NSW reviews complaints for authenticity. Case managers also ensure businesses are not tainted by false reviews.
If you are worried about complying with industry standards and Fair Trading Laws, contact one of our commercial lawyers to make sure your business is compliant. Or you can read this useful guide on the benefits of hiring a competition lawyer.
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