By way of update to our previous article on 6 April 2016, ‘Court finds US Company selling goods online in breach of Australian Consumer Laws’, the High Court of Australia has dismissed the special leave application of Valve Corporation (Valve).
In December 2017, the US based technology company, which operates the online game distribution platform, Steam, with reportedly over 2.2 million subscribers in Australia, was found to have breached Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The Full Federal Court ordered Valve to pay a $3 million penalty.
In 2016, the trial judge found that Valve had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by making representations about customers’ rights in Steam’s terms and conditions and refund policy. Valve had falsely indicated that customers would not be entitled to refunds or standard consumer guarantees and warranties available under the ACL. The ACL provides there are certain consumer guarantees and warranties that cannot be modified or excluded in relation to goods and services.
The High Court’s decision to refuse Valve’s special leave application confirms that companies based overseas must comply with the ACL when dealing with Australian customers.
In response to the decision, ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said, “This important precedent confirms the ACCC’s view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws. If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a repair, replacement or refund as if they’d walked in to a store”.