The Federal Court in Darwin today dismissed a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against a travelling tax agent, Mr Wayne Wright, and his company Adata (Vic) Pty Ltd (Adata).
The ACCC had alleged that Adata and Mr Wright had breached the unsolicited selling provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when providing tax return services to consumers in remote Aboriginal communities in the NT and WA, including Santa Teresa, Titjikala, and Balgo.
The Federal Court held that the agreements entered into with 191 consumers in 22 communities during 2012 and 2013 were not ‘unsolicited consumer agreements’ within the meaning prescribed by the ACL. As a result, the Court did not need to consider whether the requirements of the unsolicited consumer agreement provisions of the ACL had been complied with.
“This case was commenced because of the ACCC’s concerns that the trader’s conduct was adversely affecting Indigenous consumers,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“The ACCC is carefully considering the judgment and its implications for the protection of that consumer group and the application of the unsolicited consumer agreement provisions more generally,” Ms Rickard said.
The unsolicited consumer agreements provisions of the ACL impose obligations on dealers calling on consumers without prior consent, which include:
- a 10 business day cooling off period
- informing customers about their termination rights under the ACL
- providing customers with a copy of their agreement with the supplier
- including mandatory consumer protection information in agreements, and
- the prohibition on negotiations with consumers on a Sunday or public holiday, or before or after certain times on other days.
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