Recent changes to consumer laws represent some of the most extensive reforms of the past 20 years.

The changes significantly increase consumer protections, whilst modernising consumer laws.

Increased penalties

Most significantly, the penalties under the Fair Trading Act have tripled. From 18 June 2014, Fair Trading Act penalties increase from $60,000 for an individual to $200,000.

Breaches of the Fair Trading Act by body corporates can now attract $600,000 fines, up from the previous $200,000 limit.

Unsubstantiated representations prohibited

From 18 June 2014, unsubstantiated representations will be prohibited. Any claims about products, services, or goods, will need to be substantiated. Even if a statement is true, you could breach the Fair Trading Act if you have no basis for making that statement.

Limits on contracting out

The changes clarify that the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act cannot be contracted out of by normal consumers.

However, these Acts can be contracted out of in some business to business transactions, provided this is fair and reasonable and certain formalities are followed.


Several changes modernise consumer protections. Protections have been extended to  internet and telephone sales, internet auctions have increased regulations, and businesses selling over the internet or by auction will now have to declare their trader status.

Unfair contracts banned

From 18 March 2015, if you enforce or include an “unfair” term in a standard form consumer contract, you could be found liable under the Act for a fine of up to $200,000 for an individual or $600,000 for a body corporate.

What do you need to do?

If you are in trade, now is a good time to review your contracts, advertisements, and compliance practices.

We will continue to release updates on the changes, and are happy to answer any queries.