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01 Jun 2010

Finalised ACCC guide to the unfair contract terms law now out

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission's guide to the unfair contract terms law, which explains the new unfair contracts terms in the Australian Consumer Law, has now been released.

The guide was developed by the ACCC in conjunction with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the state and territory consumer protection agencies.

Although the guide is not legally binding, it does set out the regulators' thinking on types of unfair contracts terms.

The guide is essential reading for any business which uses standard form contracts for consumers - including contracts for telecommunications, finance/lending/leasing; domestic construction; gyms, motor vehicles, travel and utilities.

There is a useful list of terms that may be considered "unfair" and explanation of why this is so, which is a good starting point for any business reviewing its contracts - but its not an exhaustive list.

The consequences of a term being "unfair" are also discussed.

The new unfair terms legislation will commence 1 July 2010, so the time to review standard term consumer contracts is here and now.

We've been following the new unfair contracts terms in the Australian Consumer Law, and will keep you informed of any further developments. However it will be some considerable time before there will be any court decisions which consider this reform - the recent decisions on the Victorian equivalent provisions are the best guide to these new requirements.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.