The 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; and
- penalties, enforcement powers and consumer redress options.
The ACL applies nationally and in all States and Territories, and to all Australian businesses. For transactions that occurred prior to 1 January 2011, the previous national, State and Territory consumer laws continue to apply.
The ACL is administered by the ACCC and state and territory consumer protection agencies and is enforced by all Australian courts and tribunals, including the courts and tribunals of the States and Territories.
The protections in the ACL are generally reflected in similar provisions in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act), so that financial products and services are treated in the same way.
The ACL is a cooperative reform of the Australian Government and the States and Territories, through Council of Australian Governments (COAG). An Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) [PDF 217KB] signed by the Council of Australian Governments underpins the establishment of the ACL.
The ACL was the key recommendation of the Productivity Commission's 2008 Review of Australia's Consumer Policy Framework. The Productivity Commission found that the ACL could deliver between $1.5 and $4.5 billion of benefits to the Australian community.