The High Court of Australia has dismissed a special leave application by one of the world’s largest online gaming companies, US-based Valve Corporation (Valve), which operates the Steam game distribution platform.
Valve had sought special leave to appeal from the decision of the Full Federal Court in December 2017, which upheld the trial judge’s ruling that Valve had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when selling to Australia users, and that it pay a $3 million penalty.
In 2016, the trial judge had found that Valve had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to Australian customers about their rights under consumer guarantees.
As a result of the High Court’s refusal of special leave, the Full Federal Court’s decision that Valve is bound by the ACL in its dealings with Australian customers, despite being based overseas, is the final decision on this issue.
“This important precedent confirms the ACCC’s view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws. If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a repair, replacement or refund as if they’d walked in to a store,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
Valve Corporation is based in Washington State and operates the Steam game distribution platform. Valve has 2.2 million Australian subscriber accounts on its Steam platform.
The ACCC commenced legal action against Valve in August 2014.
In 2016, the Federal Court found that Valve had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations.
Valve appealed the findings and on 22 December 2017 the Full Federal Court dismissed Valve’s appeal on jurisdiction and the ACCC’s cross appeal on penalty.