Industry-led codes

  • An industry-led voluntary code of conduct sets standards for how an industry deals with its members and customers.
  • Unlike prescribed codes of conduct, which are enforceable under legislation, industry-led codes are a form of self-regulation.

What the ACCC does

  • We can provide guidance to help industry develop an effective code of conduct.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t draft, approve, or put industry-led voluntary codes of conduct into action.
  • We don’t enforce compliance with industry-led voluntary codes.

Industry-led codes only apply to members that sign up

An industry-led code of conduct sets standards for the way industry participants:

  • deal with each other and their customers
  • act to comply with competition and consumer law.

Industry-led codes are voluntary. They only apply to industry participants who sign up to them. These codes are created and administered by industry participants.

Industry-led codes are a form of self-regulation, unlike prescribed codes of conduct that are enforced by legislation. Industry-led codes are not enforced under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

A code can bring benefits for the industry

There are benefits in having an industry-led voluntary code that members follow.

This includes:

  • more transparency about the industry and how it operates
  • increased confidence of stakeholders, investors and consumers
  • a way to ensure businesses meet the requirements of relevant legislation and minimise breaches
  • reduced regulatory burdens for businesses
  • competitive marketing advantage.

Industry-led codes can often respond faster to change than codes prescribed under law. Industry participants often feel more connected to industry-led codes too. This leads to greater commitment to follow the code.

Codes should be well designed and enforced

Voluntary codes of conduct should be well designed, implemented and enforced.

We encourage industry to develop codes of conduct that help members meet the requirements of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

When developing a voluntary code, we recommend that industry considers:

  • purpose and objectives of the code, and how they’ll be measured
  • whether an industry-led code is a suitable way to achieve goals
  • role of any industry associations
  • who and what the code will cover
  • how to encourage industry participants to sign up
  • oversight by a code administration committee
  • costs and funding to establish and administer the code
  • collection of data to track how effective the code is
  • penalties or other consequences that will apply when members don’t follow the code.

Consider if the code is likely to impact competition in the industry. When a code includes possible anti-competitive rules, you should apply for an authorisation from the ACCC.

Read our guidelines before developing a code

We recommend you read our Guidelines for developing effective voluntary industry codes of conduct before you start writing a code.

Also think carefully about how you’ll encourage industry participants to sign up to the code.