When we first started arguing for unfair contract laws for small business people in 2009 we had discussions with the Federal Attorney-General’s Department. They told us that there wasn’t a problem because no-one complained. But we campaigned persistently for seven years until the laws were passed.
The new laws started last Saturday, 12 November 2016. (Hooray!) The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission last week released a report into the 12 months’ research they have done on unfair contracts. The ACCC believes that somewhere between 8 and 10 million (yes million) contracts will need to be re-written to comply with the new laws.
The ACCC has uncovered common terms in contracts that are unfair. According to the ACCC these are:
- give one party an unconstrained right to unilaterally vary key aspects of a contract;
- that unfairly seek to shift liability from the contract provider to the small business; or
- that provide unnecessarily broad termination rights will almost always raise concerns about unfairness.”
Businesses that rely on these types of terms should be aware that they are leaving themselves open to action by the ACCC or another party.