UnFair Contracts – Misleading Conduct – Scams – 3 Biggest Problems for Small Business
From January to June this year the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) received nearly 3800 contacts (reports and enquiries) about small business issues plus 263 contacts about franchising issues. The most common issue reported to us by small businesses was misleading conduct and false representations with over 1000 reports. Small businesses also reported a total of $2.3 million in financial losses to scams.
On 28 August 2018, the ACCC published this report online –
Unfair contract terms, misleading conduct and scams are some of the biggest issues affecting small businesses in Australia, according to the ACCC’s latest Small Business in Focus report.
The issue most commonly reported by businesses remains misleading or deceptive conduct, closely followed by enquiries about consumer guarantees.
Unfair contracts remain a major issue, and in the past six months the ACCC has taken action against businesses including ATM provider Cardtronics, potato wholesaler, Mitolo, Wisdom Properties Group and AWB Harvest Finance Pools over potentially unfair contract terms.
“We have many more investigations under way and further actions on unfair business-to-business contracts will take place soon,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
Industry codes provide a range of important protections for small businesses and the ACCC is responsible for enforcing these codes, including the Horticulture Code, Food and Grocery Code, Franchising Code and Oil Code.
“At the beginning of the year, we named our priority focus areas to ensure small businesses have a level playing field to compete. We are homing in on unfair terms in business-to-business contracts and making sure industry codes are working in the way they are intended to offer small businesses protection where it is needed,” Mr Keogh said.
“There has deservedly been a spotlight on issues impacting the franchising industry. We have been involved in the Parliamentary Joint Committee inquiry into both the Franchising Code and Oil Code. We submitted 10 recommendations such as increased penalty provisions and more meaningful disclosure relating to franchisees’ costs which we think will improve the outcome for franchisees.”
“We are committed to ensuring that Australia’s 2.2 million small businesses have a fair go. We have a range of regulatory powers available to us, and will continue to leverage these get the best outcomes for small business, franchises and agriculture companies,” Mr Keogh said.
Whitelaw Legal Group provides specialist legal services to the SME sector covering these three biggest issues mentioned by the ACCC.
We draft and review contracts to make sure they protect your interests and avoid typical pitfalls and traps for the unwary.
We will review any contract you are considering entering into and tell you if we think any of its terms are unfair contract terms that infringe the law.
We advise businesses on their legal remedies when they have been the victim of misleading or deceptive conduct.
We advise franchisees on their legal rights under the Franchising Code, under the Australian Consumer Law and under the general law.
Call us now on 03 6431 7674. Under our Open Door policy for small businesses we never charge you for our time until and unless we can present you with an action blueprint that sets out our value proposition, deliverables, timeline, our fixed fee estimate and our firm’s quality guarantee and you approve it by signing it. Only then will we send you a cost agreement. Only when you sign and return the cost agreement do we start work.