On 21 February 2014, the ACCC released its 2014 Compliance and Enforcement Policy, which sets out the ACCC’s priority areas for 2014 and factors to be taken into account when deciding whether to pursue matters.

The ACCC has identified nine consumer protection priorities. New priority areas include:

  • emerging consumer issues in the online marketplace, particularly drip-pricing and comparator websites;
  • the disruption of scams that rely on building deceptive relationships and which cause severe and widespread consumer or small business detriment;
  • credence claims particularly those with the potential to adversely impact the competitive process and small businesses; and
  • misleading carbon pricing representations.

Priority areas continuing on from 2013 include:

  • complexity and unfairness in consumer or small business contracts;
  • activity in the telecommunications and energy sections including door to door selling and telemarketing;
  • competition and consumer issues in highly concentrated sectors, in particular in the supermarket and fuel sectors;
  • the ACL consumer guarantees regime, particularly in the context of the sale of extended warranties; and
  • consumer protection issues impacting on indigenous consumers.

The Policy reiterates that there are some areas that the ACCC will always regard as priority. These include cartel conduct, anti-competitive agreements and the misuse of market power.