Australia: Inside track: Competition and Consumer Law: Recent media releases, practice & regulation, cases

Last Updated: 19 December 2018
Article by Howard Rapke, Ian Robertson and Paul Venus
Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2019

In the media

Seednet to pay $1m penalty for misleading barley performance claims
The Federal Court has ordered Landmark Operations Limited (trading as Seednet) to pay a $1 million penalty for making false, misleading and deceptive claims in a fact sheet for its barley variety known as 'Compass'. "Seednet's conduct was unacceptable because it misled farmers into sowing barley crops under a false impression about the qualities of the crops they were planting" (07 December 2018). More...

Fines from Hobart's new infra-red parking system may not be enforceable, expert says
The council's general manager Nick Heath said APARC were successful over a number of other bidders for this contract and we are aware that this has caused some angst among their competitors. There is currently a similar, but even larger, tender process for smart parking underway in Perth, Western Australia, where a number of APARC competitors have made various claims in order to disadvantage others in that process (07 December 2018). More...

Former Murray Goulburn boss Gary Helou fined $200,000 following Federal Court settlement approval
The Federal Court has approved a settlement reached between Murray Goulburn and the ACCC which will see its former managing director hit with a $200,000 fine. The ACCC launched proceedings against Murray Goulburn last year, alleging it had engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in breach of Australian consumer law (06 December 2018). More...
ACCC statement here.

Internet provider Activ8me in court for alleged misleading advertisements
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against internet provider Australian Private Networks Pty Ltd (trading as Activ8me) in the Federal Court for allegedly making false or misleading representations in three direct mail advertisements and five online banner advertisements marketing its Opticomm fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) packages (05 December 2018). More...

PM fast-tracks divestment powers amid High Court threat
Powers enabling the forced divestment of energy assets could be law early next year with the government rushed legislation though the lower house, sight unseen. But the energy companies signalled a fight, confirming they were actively considering a High Court challenge to the laws on the grounds they were still unconstitutional despite being watered down, and that they allowed unprecedented interference in terms of price fixing (05 December 2018). More...

ACCC takes action against TPG for misleading customers
The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against TPG Internet Pty Ltd (TPG) for engaging in misleading conduct about a $20 'prepayment' made by consumers, and including unfair prepayment contract terms in some of the telco's plans. The ACCC alleges that TPG's representations to customers about the forfeiture and automatic 'top-up' function are misleading (04 December 2018). More...

It's crunch time for tech giants, as ACCC probe enters home stretch
The ACCC is expected to release a draft report from its 'world-first' inquiry into the impact of digital platforms such as Facebook and Google on traditional media. The inquiry is supposed to focus on the market power of the digital platforms, whether that is impacting the quality of news consumers receive, and how it is affecting media and advertising markets more broadly (03 December 2018). More...

Court rules fish oil capsules not 'Made in Australia'
The Federal Court has ruled that the encapsulation in Australia of imported fish oil and Vitamin D by Nature's Care Manufacture Pty Ltd (Nature's Care) would not permit the capsules to be labelled 'Made in Australia' under the Australian Consumer Law's (ACL) Country of Origin labelling provisions (03 December 2018). More...

Visy Recycling, Cleanaway and Suez remove potentially unfair contract terms
Visy Paper Pty Ltd (trading as Visy Recycling), Cleanaway Pty Ltd and Suez Recycling & Recovery Pty Ltd have agreed to make changes to their price variation and liquidated damages clauses that previously allowed them to unilaterally increase their prices in specified circumstances and impose penalties on customers who wanted to exit their contracts before the end of the contract term (03 December 2018). More...

Melbourne South Eastern Real Estate Pty Ltd - Court outcome
A company that operates three Barry Plant estate agent offices in Melbourne will pay $720,000, after the Federal Court of Australia found it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations about property sales (30 November 2018). More...

Canberra petrol stations to be banned from advertising discount fuel prices
Canberra already has some of the highest petrol prices in the country, but changes announced will stop the cost of fuel being understated by retailers that often advertise discounted prices prominently (28 November 2018). More...

Supré fined for misleading consumers on price
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading has fined fashion company Supré Pty Ltd $12,600 after finding the company made misleading representations about the price of clothing at its Chermside store (28 November 2018). More...

Belle Gibson faces jail time if $410k fine for cancer fraud goes unpaid
A Federal Court judge has warned fake wellness blogger Belle Gibson she could go to jail if she does not pay $410,000 for duping customers and breaching Australian consumer law (27 November 2018). More...

Practice and Regulation

ACCC discussion paper: electricity monitoring
The ACCC has released a discussion paper relating to how it will conduct its new role of monitoring and reporting on supply of electricity in the National Electricity Market. Submissions are sought on three key areas. Submissions close 19 December. The first report is due to the Treasurer on 31 March 2019. See the media release here and to view the discussion paper here.

Therapeutic goods advertising code
The Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (the Code) ensures that the marketing and advertising of therapeutic goods is conducted in a manner that promotes the quality use of the product, is socially responsible and does not mislead or deceive the consumer. On 1 January 2019, the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No. 2) 2018 will take effect. The differences between the 2018 code and the 2018 code #2 are summarised here.

Competition law should remain focused on consumer welfare
Keynote address delivered to the RBB Economics Annual Conference, Sydney 29 November 2018
ACCC Chair Rod Sims defended the consumer welfare standard, stating that competition law and policy 'should be first and foremost about protecting and promoting competition for the welfare of consumers' and while this might achieve other objectives, like income distribution, these broader public interest considerations should not be introduced into the core of competition law enforcement. See full transcript here.

Report to the Australian Senate on anti-competitive and other practices by health insurers and providers in relation to private health insurance
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission: 26 November 2018
This report analyses key competition and consumer developments and trends in the private health insurance industry between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018, including ACCC enforcement and other actions relating to the health sector. More...


Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Landmark Operations Limited (t/a Seednet) [2018] FCA 1977
CONSUMER LAW – where applicant and respondent reached agreement as to liability and applicable penalties for respondent's breach of the Australian Consumer Law – where respondent made representations about quality and capabilities of a new agricultural product on the market – consideration of principles for penalties – court approved parties' agreement and made orders sought.
Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), Sch 2, ss 18, 29(1), 33, 224

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Murray Goulburn Co-Operative Co Limited [2018] FCA 1964
CONSUMER LAW – assessment of pecuniary penalty – number of contraventions – course of conduct principle –misleading or deceptive conduct – decline in commodity prices – representations made to dairy farmers – representations as to the forecasted final Farmgate Milk Price – contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law – involvement of managing director in contraventions – co-operation by way of agreed facts and joint submissions – penalty assessed – declarations granted.
Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), Sch 2, Australian Consumer Law Pt 3-1, ss 18, 29(1)(i), 224(1)(a)(ii), 224(1)(e), 224(2) and 224(3); Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) s 191

Nature's Care Manufacture Pty Ltd v Australian Made Campaign Limited [2018] FCA 1936
CONSUMER LAW – Australian Consumer Law s 255 – safe harbour provisions – country of origin representations – whether fish oil and vitamin D capsules substantially transformed in Australia – where fish oil and vitamin D imported into Australia – where Applicant seeks to continue using 'Australian Made' logo on product. Competition and Consumer Act 2010 sch 2 s 255

Stowe v Johnson [2018] QSC 278
TRADE AND COMMERCE – COMPETITION, FAIR TRADING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION – CONSUMER PROTECTION – UNCONSCIONABLE CONDUCT – where the plaintiff invested in a property management business and lent money to the business – where the plaintiff lost the money he invested, and failed to recover it as an unsecured creditor – where the plaintiff now claims damages under s1041I of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) for misleading or deceptive conduct; s 12GF of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission Act 2001 (Cth) for misleading or deceptive conduct; s 82 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) for misleading or deceptive conduct/false or misleading representations or for negligent misstatement – whether the defendant made false or misleading representations to the plaintiff which induced him to invest in the business.
TRADE AND COMMERCE – COMPETITION, FAIR TRADING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION – CONSUMER PROTECTION – UNCONSCIONABLE CONDUCT – where the plaintiff claimed damages for unconscionable conduct under section 12GF of the ASIC Act – whether the defendant's dealings with "the funding of the Cameo business" constituted unconscionable conduct
CONTRACTS – GENERAL CONTRACTUAL PRINCIPLES – DISCHARGE BREACH AND DEFENCES TO ACTIONS FOR BREACH – PERFORMANCE – where the plaintiff claimed damages for breach of contract – whether the defendant breached a term that she be "just and faithful" in her dealings with the plaintiff – whether the defendant breached a term that she would "ensure" that the trust would pay its debts and meet its obligations.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions