Other civil remedies
- Injunctions: An injunction is an order made by a court, which can require a business to stop engaging in conduct that breaches the law. An injunction can also require a person to take action such as refund money, honour a promise or publish corrective advertising.
- Damages: Damages are an award to be paid as compensation to a person who has suffered loss or damage as a result of an ACL contravention. Damages can be recovered from the business that has breached the law and, in certain circumstances, individuals associated with the business (e.g. a director). This means that company structures cannot be used to shield or protect the operators of a business from being held personally liable for their actions.
- Compensation orders: In most instances, a person suffering loss or damage as a result of a breach of the ACL can obtain a compensation order against the business or individual involved in the breach. In some cases, an ACL regulator may also seek a compensation order on behalf of such persons. Compensation orders can be made on whatever terms the court thinks necessary to compensate those suffering loss or damage. In some instances, a court may decide to declare a contract void or vary its terms.
- Non-punitive orders: A business and its officers can be ordered to:
- establish a compliance or training program
- revise internal operations to reduce the risk of breaching the law.
- Adverse publicity orders: This is an order directing a business (or individuals) to disclose information and publish an advertisement about their breach. This order may only be made in respect of some breaches of the ACL.
- Disqualification orders: For certain breaches of the ACL, the Federal Court may order that a person be disqualified from managing a business for such a period as it considers appropriate.
ACCC's enforcement powers
The ACCC has various legislative tools that can be used to enforce the law and ensure businesses comply with their obligations.
- Infringement notices: Where the ACCC has reasonable grounds to believe that a business has breached a relevant provision of the ACL it may issue an infringement notice (which is like a fine) specifying a penalty to be paid. If the business disregards the notice and does not pay the fine, legal proceedings can then be taken.
- Enforceable undertakings: A person who may have contravened the ACL can offer the ACCC an undertaking, which is effectively a promise not to repeat the misconduct. If the ACCC accepts such an undertaking and the person does not comply with it the ACCC may take action to enforce it in court.
- Substantiation notices: The ACCC can issue a notice on a business demanding the business provide information to substantiate claims made about its goods or services.
- Public warning notices: The ACCC can issue a notice warning the public about the conduct of a business or a person where the ACCC:
- has reasonable grounds to suspect that the business has contravened a provision of the ACL
- is satisfied that one or more persons have suffered, or are likely to suffer, detriment as a result of the conduct and
- is satisfied that it is in the public interest to issue the notice.