ACCC files against further "small business register"

17 December 1996
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has begun legal action against the promoters of a 'small business register' which the ACCC alleges has made misleading and unsolicited claims against small businesses.

This follows similar action by the ACCC against a number of schemes in August this year.

The ACCC alleges that the 'register' has made representations to many small businesses that are likely to mislead or deceive. These include:

that the 'register' is either a government agency, or in some way associated with a government; and that the businesses need to use the services in order to meet government regulatory requirements.

The ACCC filed proceedings against the Australian Business Reports Pty Limited (ABR) and its director, Mr Gary John Solah on 11 December 1996. It is alleged that ABR and its director, have promoted a 'register' known as the Consumers Business Register. Further the ACCC have made claims against Mr Gary Solah for his involvement in the related business, 'Consumers Business Register' (CBR), promoting a 'register' by the same name.

An urgent hearing for interlocutory orders, seeking to prevent the respondents from continuing to operate the scheme in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974, will be held at 10:30 am on Thursday 19 December in the Federal Court, Canberra. The ACCC is seeking urgent injunctions to prevent the conduct from continuing including orders preventing the use of postal services in promoting the scheme in breach of the Act and ensuring monies received are forwarded to the ACCC or the Court.

When the matter comes before the Court for final determination, other orders sought include refunds of administration fees or monies received, corrective advertising and letters to clients advising them of the correct nature of the service provided and including an offer of a refund.

This action follows similar proceedings instituted by the ACCC earlier this year against the promoters of various 'registers' and 'consultancies' including the:

Australian Business and Companies Register; Certified Quality Assured Companies of Australia; and Office of Superannuation Assistance.

Interlocutory orders are currently preventing the operation of these similar schemes and the ACCC expects these matters to be heard in full in early February 1997.

During the ACCC's investigations, with the assistance of State and Territory consumer affairs bureaux and fair trading agencies, in excess of 30 schemes have been uncovered.

The ACCC advises consumers to be wary of such schemes. If invoices or letters are received by consumers for entry on any register or any service which consumers are not certain they require, they should check with the agency concerned. If consumers are still unsure, they should contact their legal adviser, accountant or State/Territory consumer affairs bureau or fair trading agency.
Release number: 
MR 173/96
ACCC Infocentre: 

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