The Government has announced that it will strengthen unconscionable conduct provisions in the TPA and the franchise code of conduct. The Government has accepted the Senate Committee’s recommendations of the majority report, including adopting the ‘approach of clarifying existing provisions rather than creating uncertainty for consumers, businesses and the courts by changing the fundamental nature of the provisions’. In this respect the laws will be ‘strengthened’ by ‘making it clear that protection from unconscionable conduct relates not only to the process of settling a contract but to the terms and conditions of the contract and the ongoing behaviour of the parties to the contract’. In addition:
The Government will establish an expert panel [which will] consider whether a list of examples of unconscionable conduct or a statement of principles of what constitutes unconscionable conduct should be incorporated into the Trade Practices Act.
The panel will report by the end of January 2010 and will involve consultation with interested parties.
Various reforms to the franchising code are also proposed. See discussion of Franchising Code proposals in The Age.
These reforms are in response to the Senate Economics Committee’s Report on the Statutory Definition of Unconscionable Conduct, released in February, and the Ripoll Report on the Franchising Code of Conduct, released in October. A more detailed version of the Government responses was tabled yeserday, but does not year appear to be available online.