The Federal Government recently passed legislative changes to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, increasing the maximum financial penalties imposable for breaches under Australian Consumer Law (ACL).  The maximum penalties are set to increase for both companies and individuals under the ACL. The changes mean that companies may now be fined up to:

  • $10 million per breach; or
  • 3 times the value of the benefit received; or where the benefit cannot be calculated,
  • 10% of the annual turnover of the business (in the preceding 12 months).

This is a sharp increase from the $1.1 million maximum that previously applied.

The maximum penalties applicable to individuals under the ACL will increase from $220,000 to $500,000 per breach.

The changes follow recent action taken against high profile companies found in breach of ACL, including Yazaki Corporation, who were fined $46 million under the Competition and Consumer Act earlier this year for engaging in cartel conduct.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have been seeking higher penalties be imposed on organisations found in breach of consumer law with the aim of protecting Australian consumers, promoting healthy economic growth, and ensuring that compliance with ACL becomes a higher priority for businesses operating in the Australian market.

Who will this impact?

ACL applies to all businesses in Australia. Although the recent changes are targeted towards larger corporations, SME’s are not exempt from the application of penalties under the legislation.

Need help?

If you have any questions in relation to the above, or any other issues that may impact your business, please do not hesitate to contact our team of lawyers at The Quinn Group on (02) 9223 9166 or submit an online enquiry form today.