NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox is calling on the small business
community to participate in public consultation on extending unfair contract term protections under the Australian Consumer Law.
Commonwealth Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, announced the consultation on Extending Consumer Unfair Contract Term Protections to Small Businesses last week
which will run for 10 weeks until 1 August 2014.
Mr Mason-Cox said this was a key opportunity for New South Wales small businesses
to have their say and provide evidence of any commercial disadvantage they may have suffered at the hands of more powerful companies through non-negotiable contracts.
“We know that many small businesses are working under contracts that may include
unfair terms,” Mr Mason-Cox said.
“Yet small businesses often have their hands tied when it comes to negotiating
fairer terms that typically work on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. There is an imbalance not only in bargaining power but also in legal expertise, placing small businesses on the back foot.”
Under a proposal now under consideration by Commonwealth, State and Territory
consumer protection agencies, the existing Australian Consumer Law provisions on unfair contract terms would extend to small business.
“As with the protection now afforded to individual consumers under the Australian Consumer Law, small businesses stand to benefit from the proposed changes which would allow a court to cancel out terms it finds unfair,” Mr Mason-Cox said.
“I urge everyone with an interest in protecting a viable small business economy to contribute to this consultative process.”
Small business owners can have their say by going to the Australian Treasury’s website and completing a short 10 to 15 minute survey at http://consult.treasury.gov.au/caanz/
Small businesses can also provide feedback or lodge a submission via the website. http://www.treasury.gov.au/ConsultationsandReviews/Consultations.