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Oz Consumer Law Penalties Set To Soar

The Federal Parliament has today passed legislation set to increase maximum consumer law penalties from around $1.1 million to over $10 million.

The news follows the ACCC’s final Australian Consumer Law (ACL) review report, with Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) recommending penalties be raised:

  • from $1.1 million for companies to the greater of $10 million
  • to three times the value of the benefit received
  • where the benefit cannot be calculated, to 10 per cent of annual turnover in the preceding 12 months

Penalties against individuals under the ACL are also set to increase, from $220,000 to $500,000 per breach.

The changes follow strong advocacy from the ACCC, encouraging higher penalties to ensure legal compliance remains a priority.

ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, asserts ACL penalties need to be high enough to be “noticed by boards and senior managers.”

“Penalties need to hit the bottom line so they are not simply seen as the cost of doing business,” he remarks.

“Companies will now face more serious financial consequences for breaching consumer law that align with competition law breaches.”

Sims affirms the legislation is a “profound change”, likely to improve corporate behaviour and deter large corporations:

“Increased penalties will help to deter large companies from breaching consumer laws. This is a profound change that I believe will improve corporate behaviour significantly, and so improve the Australian economy and how it works for consumers.”

Further information is available on the ACCC’s website here.

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