What the ACCC does

What the ACCC can't do

  • We’re not required to publicly respond to reports made to us that are not designated complaints under the law.
  • We aren’t responsible for approving bodies as designated complainants. This is done by the relevant Minister.
  • We don’t resolve individual disputes or provide legal advice on consumer or businesses rights and obligations under the law.

About the designated complaints framework

Bodies designated by the Minister can submit complaints to the ACCC, and the ACCC is required to consider and publicly respond to the complaint within 90 days.

The ACCC’s response must state what further action, if any, will be taken in response to the complaint.

Currently, a maximum of 3 designated complainants may be approved by the Minister at any one time.

Criteria for a designated complaint

Designated complaints should relate to:

  • a significant or systemic market issue affecting Australian consumers or small businesses, and
  • either a potential breach of the Competition and Consumer Act (including the Australian Consumer Law) or our powers or functions under these laws.

Only bodies designated by the Minister can submit a designated complaint.

How we respond to a designated complaint

The designated complaint meets the criteria

If we are satisfied that a designated complaint meets the necessary criteria, we may provide a further action response notice.

The notice sets out the actions we intend to take in response to the designated complaint.

The actions we can take in response to a designated complaint are broad, but they relate to our existing functions or powers. This can include:

  • undertaking education, research and/or engagement
  • advocacy activities, or
  • reviews into a specific sector.

It can also include carrying out an in-depth investigation, which may lead to us undertaking some form of enforcement activity. You can learn more about our compliance and enforcement activities in our Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

We are required to begin the actions in a further action response notice as soon as practicable, or at least within 6 months of the notice.

We may also provide a response notice stating that we won’t take any further action, even if we are satisfied that a designated complaint meets the necessary criteria. We may do this if we are satisfied that:

  • it is appropriate to take no further action, after considering specific factors, or
  • the subject matter of the designated complaint is the focus of certain types of existing inquiries, reviews, investigations or legal proceedings, after considering the extent to which issues raised in the designated complaint may have been, or are likely to be, adequately addressed through those other processes.

The designated complaint doesn’t meet the criteria

If the designated complaint doesn’t meet the necessary criteria, we must provide a response notice stating that we will take no further action.

Public register of designated complaints

We publish certain information under the designated complaints framework in the designated complaints public register

How to make a designated complaint

Only bodies that are a designated complainant can submit a complaint under this framework.

Bodies wishing to apply to become designated complainant should visit the Treasury website for more information.

A valid complaint form must be in the form approved by the ACCC

Designated complainants should review the ACCC’s guidance on making a designated complaint. The guidance provides more information on the framework and process.

How to report if you’re not a designated complainant

If you're not an approved designated complainant body, you can use the regular ways to report to the ACCC:

We’re not required to respond to reports made to us that are not designated complaints under the law.

We don’t resolve individual disputes or provide legal advice on consumers’ or businesses’ rights and obligations under the law.

Instead, we use information from reports made to us to help us understand where there are problems. Data from these reports helps inform what we investigate and what enforcement action we may take. It also helps to inform our compliance and education activities, industry engagement, advocacy and research. We focus on issues that can result in widespread harm.

We respond to reports when we have information that may help you, or you have asked a question about your rights or obligations under the law.

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