Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration
This report was sent to government on 29 March 2017 and released on 12 April 2017. It sets out some options for improving consumer protection under the multiple-regulator model for administering and enforcing the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and through changes to the broader consumer protection framework.
Download the overview
- Overview - Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration - Research report (PDF - 433 Kb)
- Overview - Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration - Research report (Word/ZIP - 189 Kb)
Download the report
- Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration - Research report (PDF - 2351 Kb)
- Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration - Research report (Word/ZIP - 1085 Kb)
- Key points
- Despite the adoption of a single Australian Consumer Law (ACL) in 2011, Australia's consumer protection framework remains complex.
- Two commonwealth and eight state and territory regulators administer and enforce the ACL.
- Numerous specialist safety regulatory regimes complement the ACL.
- Redress is provided via tribunals, courts and ombudsmen, and most ACL regulators.
- The multiple-regulator model for the ACL appears to be operating reasonably effectively given the intrinsic challenges in having 10 regulators administer and enforce one law.
- The ACL regulators communicate, coordinate and collaborate with each other through well-developed governance arrangements.
- Some regulators have been criticised for undertaking insufficient enforcement. Limited resources partly explain this, but regulator culture may also play a role.
- However, the limited evidence available on regulators' resources and performance makes definitive assessments difficult.
- developing a national database of consumer intelligence
- ensuring that data on consumer complaints published by ACL regulators are meaningful
- providing all state and territory ACL regulators with the full suite of enforcement tools
- increasing maximum financial penalties for breaches of the ACL
- exempting interim product bans from commonwealth regulatory impact assessments
- centralising powers for interim product bans and compulsory recalls in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- improving the transparency of the resourcing and performance of the ACL regulators.
- greater information sharing between ACL and specialist regulators
- addressing deficiencies in the tools and remedies available to specialist regulators
- regular national forums of building and construction regulators
- greater national consistency in the laws underpinning electrical goods safety.
- reviewing the bodies and powers for delivering ACL alternative dispute resolution services
- implementing the Commission's Access to Justice Arrangements recommendations.
Leonora Nicol (Media, Publications and Web) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443
- Preliminaries - Cover, Copyright and publication detail, Contents, Acknowledgments and Abbreviations
- Overview - including key points
- Recommendations and findings
- Chapter 1 About the study
- 1.1 The study's scope
- 1.2 The Commission's approach
- Chapter 2 The consumer protection landscape
- 2.1 Recent changes to the consumer protection landscape in Australia
- 2.2 Administration and enforcement of the ACL
- 2.3 Specialist consumer protection regulation
- 2.4 Other elements of the consumer protection landscape
- Chapter 3 How is the ACL multiple-regulator model performing?
- 3.1 Overview of the operation of the multiple-regulator model
- 3.2 Consistency in administration and enforcement
- 3.3 Strategies for compliance and enforcement
- Chapter 4 Strengthening enforcement and administration under the model
- 4.1 Institutional arrangements for the generic national product safety regime
- 4.2 Information sharing
- 4.3 Enforcement tools and penalties
- 4.4 Accountability and performance reporting
- Chapter 5 Interaction between specialist safety and ACL regulators
- 5.1 Australia's specialist safety regimes
- 5.2 Regulators' understanding of the delineation of their responsibilities
- 5.3 Consumers' and suppliers' understanding of the delineation of regulatory responsibilities
- 5.4 Interaction between ACL and specialist safety regulators
- 5.5 How might interaction be improved?
- Chapter 6 Other reforms to the consumer protection framework
- 6.1 Reform of industry-specific consumer regulation
- 6.2 Consumer redress
- 6.3 Consumer policy research and advocacy
- Appendix A Terms of reference
- Appendix B Consultation