ACCC releases its 2020 enforcement priorities

Yesterday the ACCC released its enforcement priorities for the 2020 calendar year. The ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, in his speech at the annual Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) announcing the priorities, noted that ‘the pursuit of profit does not always promote the interest of Australian consumers’.

On the back of the ACCC’s priorities in 2019, which included the financial sector and the disability care sector, 2020 will see the ACCC continue the focus on industries who deal with the vulnerable or which the ACCC considers to contain inherent inequalities between participants. These include:

  • The essential services industries (such as electricity and telecommunications): particularly in relation to misleading and deceptive conduct in pricing and selling and failing to pass on cost reductions to consumers;
  • Misleading claims in food marketing: particularly in relation to misleading claims about health or nutritional benefits;
  • The commercial construction sector: particularly unfair contract terms involving small business and subcontractors, and enforcement of whistleblower protections;
  • The dairy industry: particularly the implementation of the Dairy Industry Code of Conduct;
  • Uses and misuses of personal data: particularly in relation to consumers being misled over the collection and use of their personal data; and
  • Consumer guarantees: particularly the ability of consumers to obtain appropriate remedies and the failure by businesses to honour guarantees.

Mr Sims noted that these priorities focus on market participants who often have the ability to ‘give less and charge more’, mislead consumers about a good or service, and ‘cut corners’ by supplying products that put the health of consumers at risk.

There are no real surprises in the areas of focus that Mr Sims articulated. Our experts will follow up with particular issues for you to consider if you operate in any of the industries on which the ACCC will be focussing their attention.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns or find yourself involved in an ACCC investigation, please contact Rebecca Halkett and our regulatory team who are experienced in dealing with these issues.

Written by Rebecca Halkett and Megan Lowe.