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Australian Consumer Law (ACL)

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) started in 2011 as the single, national consumer protection and fair trading law.

The ACL governs the way businesses operate and their obligations to consumers.

For consumers, the ACL enshrines basic marketplace rights, including the right to a refund for faulty goods, the right not to be misled by advertising, and the right to be protected from unfair contract terms.

For businesses, the ACL provides a consistent legislative approach across the country, reducing red tape and the cost of compliance.

Review

Upon implementation of the ACL, it was agreed that it was to be reviewed within seven years.

The review of the ACL was completed in April 2017. It considered:

  • whether the law was operating as intended
  • whether it addressed the risk of consumer detriment without imposing unnecessary red tape
  • whether the law could respond to new and emerging consumer issues.

The ACL Review also included an:

  • analysis of consumer laws in other countries
  • examination and independent assessment of the current ‘single law, multiple regulator’ model, where a single national law is enforced by both Commonwealth and state and territory fair trading agencies.

The ACL Review was a chance for businesses and consumers to have their say on consumer issues.

An Issues paper (PDF, 966KB) was released in March 2016 to help gather public feedback on the ACL.

An Interim report (PDF, 3.25MB) was released in October 2016, which drew on feedback received on the Issues paper.

Following a further consultation period, which closed in December 2016, the Final report (PDF, 1.15MB) was released on 19 April 2017.

Consumer affairs ministers will consider the Final report in the second half of 2017.

Concurrently, the Productivity Commission conducted research into consumer law enforcement and administration. The Productivity Commission released its Final report on 12 April 2017.

Survey

The second Australian Consumer Survey has been completed and helped to inform the ACL review.

This survey was a follow-up to a similar survey done in 2010-11, and provides insights into consumer and business experience and understanding of consumer laws, their application and enforcement.

Progress reports

Progress reports are released annually to update consumers and industry on the work of consumer agencies in implementing, strengthening and improving the ACL.