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Inside track: Competition & Consumer

14 April 2020

#Competition & Consumer Law

Inside track: Competition & Consumer

In the media

ACCC clears Paddock Planner app
CBH Group's Paddock Planner app (PP app) has been cleared by the ACCC which found the app did not breach any competition or consumer laws. The PP app had been under investigation by the ACCC after growers and their representatives raised concerns over it's potential for anti-competitive and misleading conduct (08 April 2020).  More...

Timebase: CTH Bans Price Gouging and Export of Essential Goods During COVID-19 Emergency Period
On 29 March, the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Amendment (COVID‑19 Human Biosecurity Emergency) Regulations 2020 (Cth) (‘the Regulations’) was registered on the Federal Register of Legislation. Government media release here. The Regulations commenced on 30 March (07 April 2020).  More...

Telcos collude to keep Australia online
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Australia’s pro-competition regulators to relax normal industry controls on industries like telecommunications – allowing normally-prohibited collusion between competitors (07 April 2020). More...

ACCC determinations
A flurry of ACCC determinations have been granted special authorisations to key players in the medicine wholesale, banking, supermarket, energy supply, pharmaceutical services, and other industries (07 April 2020), including:
(06 April 2020) ACCC Telecommunication priorities during the COVID-19 crisis
(08 April 2020) ACCC Co-operation on funding to aid smaller lenders during COVID-19
(08 April 2020) ACCC Private and public hospitals to cooperate on COVID-19 in Victoria and Queensland
(03 April 2020)) ACCC Medicine manufacturers to coordinate on COVID-19 response
(03 April 2020) ACCC Oil companies allowed to co-operate to secure fuel supply during COVID-19 pandemic
(03 April 2020) ACCC Co-operation to support reliable energy sector authorised
(02 April 2020) ACCC Coal producers can collectively negotiate with Port of Newcastle
(01 April 2020) ACCC NBN Co, telcos to coordinate on demand surge and consumer support package
(31 March 2020) ACCC Medicine wholesalers to co-operate on access to pharmaceutical products

Insurers to offer deferred payments, refunds under small business relief package
Insurance companies and brokers will be able to work together to implement COVID-19 relief measures for certain small businesses following the ACCC’s granting of interim authorisation. The authorisation applies to Suncorp, Allianz, and QBE Insurance, as well as any other insurers or insurance brokers who choose to take part, as long as they notify the ACCC (02 April 2020).  More...

Slater & Gordon files class action against Treasury Wine Estates
On the basis of SGH's investigations to date, we consider that there is likely to be a reasonable basis to allege that TWE contravened its obligations of continuous disclosure and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, breaching relevant provisions of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (03 April 2020).  More...

Senator warns Holden
Senator McGrath questioned why Holden was refusing to engage with the legal representative of the 185 dealers who have refused to accept GM’s offer of compensation and said he was greatly concerned that there are allegations around GM Holden and GM that it engaged in misleading a deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct in its dealings with Holden retailers under ASIC and ACL regulations (03 April 2020).  More...

Measures to prevent essential goods being exported and price gouged during the fight against COVID-19
The Government has implemented amendments to the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 to stop exploitative exports of essential goods (which commenced on 30 March 2020). As a further step to address exploitative practices, the Health Minister has also determined a requirement that stops price gouging, by preventing people who have purchased essential goods at retail to on-sell them at extortionate prices (01 April 2020).  More...

Labelling claims under ACCC watch for 2020. Are yours compliant?
The ACCC have released their 2020 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities list, and food products are in the spotlight. ‘Misleading conduct in relation to the sale and promotion of food products, including health and nutritional claims, credence claims and country of origin’ will be a focus for the ACCC this year (01 April 2020).  More...

The Office of Fair Trading reprioritises to help during COVID-19
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading has put in place a number of measures to ensure it is able to maintain operations through this period of disruption and uncertainty caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) (31 March 2020).  More...

Banks authorised to co-operate on loan relief and services
The ACCC has provided a second, conditional, interim authorisation for the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and banks to co-operate to provide supplementary relief packages for individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19. The interim authorisation is conditional on banks providing details of any programs and arrangements to the ACCC before implementation, and seeking ACCC approval in some circumstances (30 March 2020).  More...

Practice and regulation

Small business guidance about refunds and cancellations due to COVID-19
Businesses will need to be aware of their rights and obligations when managing refunds and cancellations because of COVID-19, and the ACCC has issued guidance to assist small businesses to understand their rights and obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (02 April 2020). 

ACCC guidance on NBN access inquiries
The ACCC has outlined its views on wholesale access terms currently being considered by two NBN-related inquiries in position papers. The ACCC will pause its inquiries, examining both NBN entry-level access pricing and wholesale service standards, to allow the communications sector to focus on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. View the ACCC’s position paper for the NBN Wholesale Service Standards Inquiry (02 April 2020). 

ACCC inquiry: ad tech and ad agency services
The ACCC’s ad tech and ad agency services inquiry has commenced with the ACCC releasing an issues paper and seeking submissions from interested parties. Submissions are due by 21 April 2020. See issues paper.

Cases

Renshaw v New South Wales Lotteries [2020] NSWSC 360
GAMING AND WAGERING – public lottery – plaintiff claiming to have entered winning numbers but unable to produce ticket – substantial unclaimed prize from 1997
MISLEADING  AND  DECEPTIVE CONDUCT  – where plaintiff claimed to have presented winning ticket –cause of action for  misleading  and  deceptive conduct  accrued on ticket being rejected and discarded – statute barred by limitation period in s 82 of Trade Practices Act and s 68 of Fair Trading Act – damage not proven – judgment for defendants 

Storm Industries Pty Ltd trading as trustee of the T&L Trust v Unicar Australia Pty Ltd (No. 2) [2020] NSWDC 95
DAMAGES – misleading or deceptive conduct – individual defendants ordered to pay compensation – whether corporate defendant also liable to pay compensation   COSTS – multiple defendants – plaintiff succeeds against each individual defendant – plaintiff’s success against third defendant more limited than its success against the second defendant – compensation orders reflected differing contributions to loss caused by second and third defendants – whether costs orders should also reflect contributions to loss – whether apportionment of costs should be ordered on account of plaintiff’s failure in some of its complaints against third defendant

Legislation

Commonwealth

Customs (Prohibited Exports) Amendment (COVID-19 Human Biosecurity Emergency) Regulations 2020
29/03/2020 - These regulations amend the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 to implement a temporary prohibition on the export of goods that are essential to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The prohibition applies to the exportation of goods including face masks and hand sanitizer, as such export limits the availability of these goods for those with the greatest need in Australia. A further aim of this export prohibition is to dissuade consumers from engaging in widespread bulk purchase for the purpose of export.

NSW

Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments
Fair Trading (Code of Conduct for Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry) Repeal Regulation 2020 (2020-126) — published LW 3 April 2020

Disclaimer
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources.

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