Australlian Consumer Act Review 2011

In January 2011 the Australian Consumer Act came into force.   For all the fanfare that accompanied its enactment, the reality is that the Act is cumbersome and difficult to apply, does little to help consumers and small businesses, and there is real doubt that its goals are realistic or even practicable. Discuss

The Trade Practices Act (TPA) will indeed cease to exist from 31 December this year but on 1 January 2011 the Competition and Consumer Law Act (CCA) took effect. But there is a lot more to this than simply a name change.
Although the TPA competition provisions simply migrate across to the CCA it radically reshapes Australian consumer law by setting up a national consumer law regime.
The need for a national consumer law scheme to replace the current overlapping and sometimes inconsistent laws which operate at federal, state and territory level is widely acknowledged. The then Federal Government’s 1995 Justice Statement noted that it was difficult to justify the expense associated with local variations in consumer laws but it was  the Productivity Commission’s comprehensive 2008 report which provided the catalyst for reforming the current dysfunctional arrangements.
In July 2009 the nine governments settled an intergovernmental agreement to govern the development and administration of a single national consumer law to be known as the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). It was implemented through the same model that was used to implement a national competition law for Australia. The constitutional complexities that currently require nine bodies of law will be bypassed by the ACL being contained in a schedule to the CCA and applied by each state and territory pursuant to the intergovernmental agreement.
The ASIC Act and the Corporations Law will be similarly amended to give effect to the NCL. The Productivity Commission has suggested that these reforms will save Australian business about $4.5 billion per year.
The ACL has been introduced in two instalments....