Understanding fair trading
Your business and customers are legally protected from unfair trading practices by Australian federal and state laws and mandatory Australian standards and codes of practice.
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) is the main law that ensures trading is fair for businesses and consumers throughout Australia.
This Act deals with unfair market practices between suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, competitors and customers.
It covers product safety, product labelling, pricing regulations, displaying prices, industry codes of practice, collective bargaining, mergers and acquisitions of companies.
The CCA is administered and enforced jointly by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the state and territory consumer protection agencies.
The ACCC provides a small business self-assessment tool to check if your business is compliant.
Specific reference within the CCA is made to protection of consumers’ rights. The section, under the heading of Australian Consumer Law (ACL), includes:
- a national unfair contract terms law covering standard form consumer and small business contracts
- a national law guaranteeing consumer rights when buying goods and services
- a national product safety law and enforcement system
- a national law for unsolicited consumer agreements covering door-to-door sales and telephone sales
- simple national rules for lay-by agreements
- penalties, enforcement powers and consumer redress options.
The ACL is administered and enforced jointly by the ACCC and the state and territory consumer protection agencies.
In WA, the Department of Commerce administers the WA Fair Trading Act 2010.
The Department of Commerce’s website covers such issues as product safety, the sale of goods and services, advertising, promotion and sales practices and real estate and property.
Australian standards are specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, reliable and consistently perform the way that customers expect.
Standards can be voluntary or mandatory. Standards that are mandatory must be followed by businesses if they operate within a particular industry or sell certain products to ensure consumer safety. The ACCC is responsible for most mandatory standards.
Codes of practice
A code of practice provides practical guidance on how to comply with legal requirements under Western Australian occupational safety and health laws. A code of practice can be mandatory or voluntary.
Mandatory codes provide a minimum standard of protection to the consumers. They are prescribed as regulations under fair trading laws and can be legally enforced.