Settlement of ACCC action against Fox Symes

13 June 2006

Fox Symes & Associates Pty Ltd and its directors, Mr Tim Maher and Ms Deborah Southon, have given undertakings to the Federal Court as part of a settlement of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's legal action against them.

The ACCC alleged that, in its dealings with particular individuals, Fox Symes engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive and had acted unconscionably in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The settlement of the legal action was entered into by Fox Symes and its directors on the basis that they do not admit that they engaged in conduct in contravention of the Act.

The undertakings provided to the court by Fox Symes include undertakings that, for a period of five years, it:

  • will not make certain statements to customers or potential customers in respect of debt agreement proposals and debt agreements
  • will use its best endeavours to inform customers and potential customers that details of a debt agreement proposal or debt agreement are highly likely to be recorded on a person’s credit report as maintained by credit reporting agencies
  • will explain the nature and effect of all documents provided to customers and potential customers by Fox Symes, and
  • will bring to the attention of customers and potential customers the amount of all fees payable in respect of a debt agreement.

Mr Maher and Ms Southon have also provided an undertaking to the court that they will take all reasonable steps to ensure that Fox Symes complies with the undertakings it has given.

As part of the settlement, Fox Symes has also agreed with the ACCC that it will refund the application fee paid to it by the individuals named in the legal action, and pay to one of those persons the amount of an administration fee paid to Debt Relief Services Pty Ltd, a company related to Fox Symes.

"The ACCC is pleased with the outcome of this matter", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "The settlement ensures that consumers who consider engaging Fox Symes to lodge a debt agreement proposal on their behalf will be informed about the effect on their credit rating, the amount of all fees payable and the nature and effect of documents given to them by Fox Symes".

Fox Symes is a corporation providing a range of debt relief services, including services in relation to debt agreements under Part IX of the Bankruptcy Act 1966.

Release number: 
MR 129/06
ACCC Infocentre: 

Use this form to make a general enquiry.