Potential customers for some online business directories will be made aware that they are being solicited for advertising following undertakings to the Federal Court, Brisbane.

The Federal Court has accepted undertakings from Gold Coast company Australialink Pty Ltd, and its director, Ms Rachel Dargie, and general manager, Mr Desmond O'Keefe.

Australialink publishes a number of directories, including the Australian Business Pages Directory.

In proceedings instituted on 3 December 2008, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has alleged that the ways in which Australialink solicits listings for its directories are misleading or deceptive or are likely to mislead or deceive recipients, as to whether they have had prior dealings with Australialink. The ACCC has alleged that those representations contravene section 52 of the Trade Practice Act 1974

The ACCC further alleges Australialink engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by sending out notices purporting to be official court forms, in pursuit of payment for its directory listing services.

The ACCC also alleges that the overall business practice of Australialink in soliciting listings from businesses is in all the circumstances unconscionable in breach of section 51AC of the Act.

The undertakings, made by consent and without admission, will limit any further alleged consumer harm and will continue until final determination of the matter or further order of the court.

Until the matter is determined at the final hearing, the respondents have undertaken to:

  • cease using the notice which the ACCC has alleged purports to be an official court document, and
  • alter the wording in the correspondence used to solicit listings for its directories.

The ACCC is seeking final relief in the form of:

  • declarations that the conduct of Australialink contravened sections 52 and 51AC of the Act and that Mr O'Keefe and Ms Dargie were knowingly concerned in the contraventions
  • injunctions restraining Australialink and Mr O'Keefe and Ms Dargie from engaging in similar conduct for a period of seven years
  • orders that Mr O'Keefe and Ms Dargie attend relevant trade practices training
  • orders that Australialink write to businesses invoiced by Australialink notifying them of the orders made by the court, and
  • costs.

The matter has been listed for further directions in the Federal Court on Friday, 6 February 2009.

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