- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Telstra Corporation Limited  FCA 502
- Sharma by her litigation representative Sister Marie Brigid Arthur v Minister for the Environment  FCA 560
Admitted contraventions of s 21 of Australian Consumer Law – determination of pecuniary penalty – declaratory relief and penalties awarded in terms sought by parties
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Telstra Corporation Limited  FCA 502 (13 May 2021, Mortimer J)
Background: The ACCC commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Telstra in respect of alleged unconscionable conduct (s 21 of the Australian Consumer Law) that occurred between January 2016 and August 2018.
The parties ultimately filed a statement of agreed facts and admissions and proposed consent orders. The Court conducted a hearing in relation to the proposed orders and quantum of penalty.
Factual setting: The contraventions occurred in five Telstra stores which serviced remote Indigenous Australian communities and sold post-paid services with ‘add ons’ to customers. It was agreed that Telstra was in a substantially stronger bargaining position than the affected customers because of the personal circumstances of many of the affected customers, including that many of them spoke English as a second, third or fourth language, had difficulty with reading, writing or understanding financial concepts and were unemployed and dependant on government benefits. Telstra was also the only service provider in many of the affected remote communities, such that the customers had little or no choice but to use the Telstra stores.
Telstra admitted, amongst other things, that its staff had in some instances: