The Federation Press

Consumer Law and Policy in Australia and New Zealand


This book examines the 2010 ‘Australian Consumer Law’ reform package in broader context. It considers parallel re-regulation of consumer credit and other financial markets impacting on consumers. It also compares recent reform initiatives in New Zealand, Australia’s closest economic and geo-political partner, as well as developments in other major economies including the European Union, Japan and the United States.

In addition, the book examines policy considerations and market transformations, as well as the often complex legislative history associated with recent consumer law reform proposals in Australia and New Zealand. Each substantive chapter usually begins with that broader setting, especially the issues and recommendations of a 2008 Report by Australia’s Productivity Commission. Chapters then outline ‘how the law works’, before offering a critical assessment of the current regime.

This book will therefore appeal to policy-makers, researchers, senior law students, and legal practitioners interested in an advanced and wide-ranging analysis of current consumer law issues — particularly in Australia. The 14 contributors are consumer law experts associated with Australasian Consumer Law Roundtables, held annually in Australia and New Zealand since 2007 to bring together academics, regulators and peak consumer group representative.

Specific areas covered include: definitions of ‘consumers’, mandatory quality guarantees and controls over unfair terms in consumer contracts, regulation of unconscionable conduct, a possible general prohibition of ‘unfair practices’, product liability and safety regulation, responsible lending and ‘hardship’ provisions in consumer credit, consumer banking and financial advice, vulnerable consumers, interest rate caps, dispute resolution, regulatory powers and e-commerce.

Table of Contents

Part 1: General Themes
Luke Nottage and Justin Malbon
Just Who is the Consumer? Policy Rationales and a Proposal for Change
Aviva Freilich and Lynden Griggs
Comparative Consumer Law Reform and Economic Integration
Luke Nottage, Christine Riefa and Kate Tokeley

Part 2: Unfair Practices and Defective Products
Consumer Guarantees
Jeannie Paterson and Kate Tokeley
Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contracts
Nyuk Yin Nahan and Eileen Webb
Unconscionable Conduct in Consumer and Business Transactions
Nyuk Yin Nahan and Eileen Webb
A General Provision on Unfair Practices?
Jeannie Paterson
Product Liability and Safety Regulation
Luke Nottage and Jocelyn Kellam

Part 3: Consumer Credit and Investment
Responsible Lending, Unjust Terms and Hardship
Justin Malbon
Financial Literacy, Consumer Banking and Financial Advice
Gail Pearson
Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Consumers
Therese Wilson
Interest Rate Caps and Price Regulation in Consumer Credit
Nicola Howell

Part 4: Access to Remedies and Enforcement
Consumer Complaints
Justin Malbon
Regulatory Consistency and Powers
Paul O’Shea
Lynden Griggs

Appendix: Updated Submission to the Australian Government’s Consultation on Consumer Voices: Sustaining Advocacy and Research in Australia New Consumer Policy Framework
Justin Malbon and Luke Nottage (eds)

Of interest...