The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published the March 2013 quarterly report, ACCCount.
Notable achievements for the quarter include:
- Responding close to 50,000 complaints and inquiries from businesses and consumers
- Commencing five new civil proceedings and two appeals in the Federal Court
- Obtaining four court enforceable undertakings
- Securing over $800,000 in penalties for breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010)
- Receiving payment of $33,000 for nine infringement notices under the Australian Consumer Law
- Completing 65 merger reviews and issuing 12 final authorisation determinations
- Negotiating the recalls of over 260,000 unsafe and faulty consumer goods. The ACCC reviewed notifications for 79 consumer product safety recalls in the quarter and specifically managed 46 of the recalls
The ACCC released its 2013 Compliance and Enforcement Policy in February, which outlines priority areas for the year and the factors to be taken into account when deciding whether to pursue matters.
“By taking action in areas where the ACCC’s believes there is great detriment we make it clear where the commercial behaviour boundaries are and what the consequences are for crossing the line,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
During the quarter, the ACCC achieved significant penalties against various traders for breaches of the fair trading and consumer protection provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010).
The Federal Court ordered Adepto Publications Pty Ltd, its sole owner, director and a former manager to pay penalties totalling $750,000 after they admitted they had made false and misleading representations for advertising services that were never requested. Also of note, King Island Meatworks and Cellars Pty Ltd were ordered to pay $50,000 for misleading place of origin representations.
These judgements take to $22.58 million the total penalties awarded by the Federal Courts under the Australian Consumer Law pecuniary penalty regime.
“The ACCC continued to commence court action to protect the interests and safety of consumers,” Mr Sims said.
This included action taken against Visa Inc and a number of related Visa entities alleging misuse of market power in relation to dynamic currency conversion services. Proceedings were also instituted against Luv-A-Duck Pty Ltd for alleged false, misleading or deceptive representations in relation to the promotion and supply of its duck meat products.
Also in the March quarter, the ACCC granted eight draft authorisation determinations, 12 final determinations and six interim decisions. Of note, the ACCC granted conditional authorisation for five years for Qantas Airways Limited and Emirates to coordinate their air passenger and cargo transport operations and related services.
ACCCount is now available.