Changes to the Australian Consumer Law

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) was reviewed in 2017 to improve consumer wellbeing and ensure the ACL continues to adapt to evolving markets.

The Consumer Affairs Forum (CAF) considered the ACL Review Final Report in August 2017.

In 2018, the Commonwealth legislated the majority of proposals arising from the Review.

Legislated proposals are listed below and guidance material on this website will be updated in due course.

Work is also being progressed on other reforms agreed by CAF and this page will be updated as those reforms are legislated. More information is available from CAF’s communiques.

List of proposals
Proposals Details Status of legislation Name of legislation (if enacted)
Proposal 4:
Warranty against defects
Clarify the mandatory text requirements for warranties against defects by developing text specific to services and services bundled with goods. Enacted.
Commenced on 9 June 2018, with a 12-month transition period.
Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Regulations 2018
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has in-depth information about warranties against defects. You can find this information on the ACCC website.
Proposal 5:
Goods damaged or lost in transit
Clarify the scope of the exemption from the consumer guarantees for the transport or storage of goods where those goods are damaged or lost in transit. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 8:
Powers to obtain information
Strengthen ACCC powers to obtain information about product safety, by broadening the power to apply to any person (including a consumer) likely to have relevant information, rather than only the supplier. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 9:
Publicly-listed companies
Extend the ACL (and ASIC Act) unconscionable conduct protections to publicly-listed companies. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 11:
Powers to obtain information
Enable regulators to use existing investigative powers to better assess whether or not a term may be unfair. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 12:
Threshold requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements

Ensure that the unsolicited selling provisions operate as intended by clarifying that the provisions:

  1. can apply to public places
  2. capture suppliers in their negotiations with consumers where the suppliers obtain from a third party (sometimes referred to as a ‘lead generator’) a consumer’s contact details or permission to be contacted.
  1. – enacted. Commenced on 26 October 2018.
  2. – in  progress
1 – Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 13:
Pre-selected options
Enhance price transparency in online shopping by requiring that any additional fees or charges associated with pre selected options are included in the headline price. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018, with a 12-month transition period.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
As part of the ACL review, changes are coming into effect to make pricing clearer when shopping online.
From 26 October 2019, businesses need to include all fees, charges and pre-selected options in the listed price of goods and services.
Previously, a business could advertise one price but once you started the buying process, they could add extra charges or options.
This could lead consumers into buying and paying for more than they expected if they did not get a chance to opt-out of the extras.
Businesses are now only able to advertise the full price of their item. Consumers can then choose to add optional extras to their purchase.
Proposal 15:
Financial thresholds - definition of consumer
Increase the financial threshold in the definition of consumer within the ACL (and the ASIC Act) from $40,000 to $100,000. Enacted.
Commences on 1 July 2021.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Acquisition as Consumer - Financial Thresholds) Regulations 2020
Proposal 16:
Financial products
Amend the ASIC Act to clarify that all ACL-related consumer protections that already apply to financial services also apply to financial products. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 17:
Private action
Ease evidentiary requirements for private litigants through an expanded ‘follow on’ provision enabling them to rely on admitted facts from earlier proceedings. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Proposal 18:
Maximum financial penalties
Increase maximum financial penalties available under the ACL by aligning them with the penalty regime under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010:
  • for companies, the greater of:
    • the maximum penalty (of $10 million), or
    • three times the value of the benefit the company received from the act or omission, or
    • if the benefit cannot be determined, 10 per cent of annual turnover in the preceding 12 months.
  • for individuals, $500,000.
Enacted.
Commenced on 1 September 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 3) Act 2018
Proposal 19:
Community service orders
Allow third parties to give effect to a community service order where the trader in breach is not qualified or trusted to do so. Enacted.
Commenced on 26 October 2018.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Technical amendment (a) Amend the definition of ‘unsolicited services’ in section 2 of the ACL to allow the false billing provisions (section 40 and 162) to apply to false bills for services not provided. Enacted. Commenced on 26 October 2018. Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Technical amendment (b) Amend section 12DC of the ASIC Act to address terminology inconsistent with other consumer protection provisions in the ASIC Act and that may unintentionally narrow the scope of the provision. Enacted. Commenced on 26 October 2018. Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018
Technical amendment (c) Amend section 76 of the ACL (or the regulations) to clarify that disclosure requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements do not apply to certain exempt agreements. Enacted. Commenced on 9 June 2018. Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Regulations 2018