On 22 March Nicola Roxon released a discussion paper on reform to contracts law in Australia. Even though our contracts law system “performs well by national standards” there is “no reason for complacency” and the Australian Government sees an opportunity to:

  • increase the accessibility of contract law
  • improve the certainty of the law in those areas which are unclear or unsettled
  • simplify the law and remove unnecessarily technical rules
  • set basic standards of acceptable conduct
  • support innovation and new ways of doing business
  • maximise participation in the digital economy
  • ensure that contract law meets the needs of small and medium-sized businesses
  • facilitate elasticity and flexibility to help support long-term contractual relationship
  • harmonise statute law applying in the different States and Territories, and
  • internationalise the law to facilitate cross-border trade and investment

The Australian Government would like to hear your views by 20 July on the answers to the following questions:  

  1. What are the main problems experienced by users of Australian contract law? Which drivers of reform are the most important for contract law? Are there any other drivers of reform that should be considered?
  2. What costs, difficulties, inefficiencies or lost opportunities do businesses experience as a result of the domestic operation of Australian contract law?
  3. How can Australian contract law better meet the emerging needs of the digital economy? In what circumstances should online terms and conditions be given effect?
  4. To what extent do businesses experience costs, difficulties, inefficiencies or lost opportunities as a result of differences between Australian and foreign contract law?
  5. What are the costs and benefits of internationalising Australian contract law? 
  6. Which reform options (restatement, simplification or substantial reform of contract law) would be preferable? What benefits and costs would result from each? 
  7. How should any reform of contract law be implemented?
  8. What next steps should be conducted? Who should be involved?

You can access the discussion paper here