Emerging business models and the law
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is a national law governing consumer protection. The ACL is administered and enforced jointly by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and NSW Fair Trading, along with other state and territory consumer law regulators. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) governs consumer protection in the financial sector.
A review is now underway to see if the ACL is operating effectively and as intended. The review is being undertaken by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ).
Since the law’s commencement in 2011, the growth of Collaborative Economy businesses has presented new challenges for the ACL. In a report by Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by the ACCC, it was stated that Collaborative Economy operations may not always fully comply with existing laws.
The Collaborative Economy is subject to the ACL
While the Collaborative Economy is subject to the ACL, there are some questions surrounding the level of activity that could be considered to be undertaken ‘in trade or commerce’, which is a requirement of the current law. There are also some questions surrounding whether platform operators, which are commonly a third party to a transaction, are subject to misleading and deceptive conduct provisions because of the facilitative role they play.
In March 2016 an Issues Paper was released for public comment that specifically addressed issues raised by emerging technologies. Submissions closed Friday 27 May 2016.
An interim report including discussion of these issues is now available for public comment until Friday 9 December 2016. CAANZ will provide consumer affairs ministers with a final report on the review by March 2017.