National consumer law set for New Year

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National consumer law set for New Year
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The biggest overhaul of Australia's fragmented consumer protection laws in 35 years is set to land on January 1 and the  Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a guide to help resellers through the changes.

The Trade Practices Act, in force since 1974, will change to the Competition and Consumer Act and the new Australian Consumer Law, which is a part of it, will replace 17 national, state and territory laws.

"The consumer guarantees are based on the same principles as the current implied terms, but provide more clarity for businesses and consumers about the circumstances where businesses are required to provide a remedy," ACCC deputy chairman Michael Schaper said.

"It is vital that businesses and their staff understand both the rights of consumers under the new guarantees, as well as their own rights.”

Schaper said the consumer watchdog wrote the education guide with state and territory consumer protection agencies and industry to explain how the new law applies to the supply of goods and services.

Last month, the parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury said the new consumer law "represents one of the most significant reforms in the history of Australian consumer protection".

Most importantly for resellers, the new law introduces:

  • new consumer guarantees regime;
  • new unfair contract terms regime;
  • new national product safety and enforcement system;
  • national laws covering a sales practices;
  • new national rules for lay-by agreements;
  • new powers for the ACCC and other agencies investigating breaches and
  • new penalties for courts to award.

The ACCC has released video guidelines of product safety and enforcement aspect of the law. 

The ACCC reminded business owners that consumers are not entitled to a remedy if they misused a good, changed their mind, or the good lasted for a reasonable period of time.

Next: ACCC's Myth busting 

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