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Hefty fine for misleading Aussie distributors

12 March 2018

A company and its two Gold Coast directors were ordered to pay over $579,579 in fines, compensation, and court costs, by the Southport Magistrates Court today (12 March 2018) following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Eco Boss Pty Ltd, Samuel Edward Newnham and Adrian James Campbell pleaded guilty to 11 counts of making false and misleading representations. Neither Mr Newnham nor Mr Campbell appeared in court.

Eco Boss Pty Ltd was fined $250,000. Mr Newnham was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay $102,200 in restitution to affected distributors and $89.90 in court costs. Mr Campbell was fined $85,000 and ordered to pay $102,200 restitution and $89.90 in court costs. A conviction was recorded against Mr Campbell.

The Court heard between October 2015 and June 2016 Eco Boss Pty Ltd sold ‘exclusive’ distribution licenses for the sale and installation of a particular brand of smoke detection technology in different locations within Australia.

Mr Newnham and Mr Campbell told interested purchasers they had an agreement with a UK-based company to sell territorial licenses within Australia, producing a false contract with the UK Company to deliberately mislead potential distributors.  As a result the 11 affected purchasers were under the impression they had bought exclusive distribution rights in specified areas.

In sentencing, the Court considered Mr Newnham’s and Mr Campbell’s level of manipulation, the significant financial detriment their actions had on the affected purchasers and lack of remorse.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Routledge said this outcome is a clear reminder to traders of their duty to act honestly and with transparency.

“The conduct of Eco Boss Pty Ltd, Mr Campbell and Mr Newnham was calculated and manipulative, and there is no place in Queensland for traders who behave in such a deceptive and misleading manner.”

More information on business and consumer rights and responsibilities under the ACL can be found at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.