Consumer Protection / Reports and Inquiries / Unfair Terms

Review of statutory implied conditions and warranties

Today Chris Bowen MP will deliver another speech – this time to the National Consumer Congress in Adelaide – promoting the proposed new Australian Consumer Law.  See Fair markets for confident consumers: Delivering an Australian Consumer Law

See also Bowen’s press release.

As well as providing an overview of the consultation paper released last month, Bowen announced a review of statutory implied conditions and warranties to be conducted by the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC).  Bowen highlighted what he claimed to be a ‘lack of awareness’ on the part of consumers of implied terms and an exploitation of that ignorance by ‘some businesses’.  Bowen also stated that the review will also ‘explore the issue of whether or not ‘lemon laws’ are the best way to help consumers respond to motor vehicles they may have purchased, that repeatedly fail to meet expected standards of performance and quality.’

The full list of matters to be examined by CCAAC include:

  • ‘the adequacy of the current laws on implied conditions and warranties;
  • the need for any amendments to the current laws on implied conditions and warranties and, if so, how those amendments would improve existing lawsand better empower regulators to ensure compliance with those laws;
  • the need for ‘lemon laws’ in Australia to protect consumers who purchase goods that repeatedly fail to meet expected standards of performance and quality, specifically in relation to motor vehicles;
  • the existence of extended warranties in the market place and their interaction with laws on implied conditions and warranties; and
  • other means for improving the operation of existing statutory conditions and warranties in Australia.’

Following industry consultation CCAAC is to report to the Minister by 31 July 2009.

See also today’s speech by Peter Kell, Deputy Chairman of the ACCC, to the National Consumer Congress, entitled: Consumer Protection – new Challenges and Opportunities, in which he emphasises the importance of proposed reforms which would introduce civil pecuniary penalties for contraventions of the consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act (they are currently available for competition law breaches only).

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