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The common law
The common law is a fundamental source of employment obligations in the country, with the employment contract being the most well-known manifestation of common law obligations. The employment contract applies to all employment relationships; however, any terms in the contract that contradict the minimum conditions set by statutory frameworks or Industrial Instruments are considered invalid. Although there is no legal requirement to have a written employment contract, it is highly recommended. In the absence of a written contract, Australian courts may imply certain terms in the relationship between the employee and employer.
Australian Consumer Law
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is a comprehensive set of regulations designed to safeguard consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace. It encompasses various provisions aimed at promoting fair trading and ensuring consumer rights are protected.
Some of the key aspects covered by the ACL include:
- Misleading or deceptive conduct: Businesses are prohibited from engaging in any conduct that may mislead or deceive consumers in connection with the supply of goods or services.
- Unconscionable conduct: This refers to unfair and oppressive practices by businesses towards consumers or in business-to-business dealings, taking advantage of a party’s vulnerability or lack of bargaining power.
- Consumer guarantees: The ACL provides specific guarantees to consumers when acquiring goods or services, such as ensuring that the quality of goods is acceptable, fit for purpose, and match their description.
- Unfair contract terms: Standard form consumer contracts or small business contracts cannot contain unfair terms, which are rendered void under the ACL.
- Product safety regulations: Suppliers are held strictly liable for any injury or damage caused by defective goods. They must also comply with product safety and information standards.
- Other unfair practices: The ACL addresses various unfair practices, including unsolicited supplies, pyramid schemes, and other deceptive tactics.
For violations of the ACL, significant penalties can be imposed on corporations, with fines of up to AUD 10 million. Individuals can also face fines of up to AUD 500,000.
It’s essential for consumers to be aware of their rights under the ACL. The time limit for taking legal action under the ACL may vary depending on the type of claim being made. It is advisable for consumers to seek legal advice promptly if they believe their rights have been infringed under the Australian Consumer Law.