Review of Australian Consumer Law Begins The first review of the Australia Consumer Law (ACL) since its commencement on 1 January 2011 has officially begun, with Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) releasing an issues paper seeking stakeholder views on whether the law is working effectively (Issues Paper). Background to the ACL review In June 2015, the then Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, announced that a review of the ACL (ACL Review) would commence in 2016. The ACL Review has three broad terms of reference: 1. the effectiveness of the ACL provisions, whether these provisions are operating as intended, and whether they place an appropriate level of regulatory burden on business; 2. the extent to which the national consumer policy framework has met the objectives established for it; and 3. the flexibility of the ACL to respond to new and emerging issues. A final report regarding the ACL Review is expected by March 2017. The final report will make findings and identify options to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the ACL. Issues Paper The Issues Paper raises particular concerns with the structure and clarity of the ACL for both businesses and consumers, and CAANZ is seeking submissions from stakeholders regarding how the ACL is working in practice and how it can be improved. In particular, CAANZ is seeking feedback regarding: 1. Consumer policy in AustraliaThe ACL Review seeks to determine whether stakeholders consider that the objectives of the national consumer policy framework are relevant today. 2. The legal frameworkThe ACL Review seeks to ascertain whether stakeholders consider the language and structure of the ACL to be easily understood and navigated, whether the ACL is effective in protecting consumer rights, and whether it is sufficiently extensive in the rights that it accords to consumers. In particular, the ACL Review will consider whether it is necessary to expand the ACL's misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct and unfair contract terms provisions. 3. Administration and enforcementThe ACL Review seeks stakeholder opinion on the activities of ACL regulators and the adequacy of the ACL's remedy and offence provisions - including the current scope for taking private action, as well as access to remedies. 4. Emerging consumer policy issuesThe ACL Review seeks to address emerging consumer policy issues that are becoming increasingly relevant, including emerging marketplaces such as off-premises selling (e.g. 'pop-up' stores, telemarketing or door-to-door sales), online shopping, and other business models such as the 'sharing' economy. It also seeks stakeholder feedback on the empowerment of consumers through access to consumer data and disclosure requirements as an emerging consumer policy issue. Feedback in the form of either formal submissions or brief online comments is requested by Friday 27 May 2016. See here for more details. For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten or Matthew Dempsey.