The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging businesses to closely review the standard form contracts they use when dealing with other businesses.
A new law will take effect on 12 November 2016, following a 12-month transition period, that offers small businesses protections against unfair contract terms offered by other (usually larger) firms.
This law supplements the existing law on unfair contract terms for consumers. The ACCC, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and state and territory offices of fair trading are responsible for enforcing the law.
“This new law is a positive step for small businesses that are presented with standard form contracts,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“For every business that deals with small businesses, now is the time to check that your contracts are compliant.”
The law applies to standard form contracts between businesses where one of the businesses employs less than 20 people and the contract is worth up to $300,000 in a single year or $1 million if the contract runs for more than a year. Standard form contracts provide little or no opportunity for the responding party to negotiate the terms – they are offered on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.
“The new protections will help address significant imbalances or disadvantages to small businesses in their dealings with other businesses by allowing the courts to declare void unfair terms within standard form contracts,” Dr Schaper said.
If you’re from a small business and you’re offered a standard form contract that includes a term you think is unfair, visit the ACCC website to find out about your protections under the law. Information is also available on the ACCC website to assist big business.
Watch the following videos to find out about your rights and obligations under the new law.