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  • The ACCC is pushing for higher penalties in consumer law cases, with the trend set to continue following last year’s increase to the maximum penalty.
  • Three recent cases of the Federal Court have examined the calculation of penalties, including a new record penalty for breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
  • The ACCC has flagged the publication of new guidelines to provide insight into the way penalties are set.

In August this year, the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’), Rod Sims, spoke to the Law Council of Australia’s annual Competition Law Workshop. Among the topics discussed, Sims addressed the ACCC’s long-standing desire to see more significant penalties to deter breaches of Australia’s competition and consumer laws, including the Australian Consumer Law (‘ACL’). 

Sims referred to research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2018 which found that Australian penalties were significantly lower than in other jurisdictions. The ACCC has long argued for higher penalties and Sims said it is now ‘starting to have some momentum’.

In September, the Federal Court delivered three decisions that examined different aspects of the penalty-setting process. They provide useful insights for consumer law practitioners as the push for higher penalties continues.

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