Competition and Consumer Act 2010

ACCC unsuccessful in appeal against Pfizer

The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has dismissed an appeal by the ACCC against an earlier judgment in relation to Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd (Pfizer).

The ACCC alleged that Pfizer breached the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 by misusing its market power to prevent or deter competition from other suppliers selling generic atorvastatin products to pharmacies, and engaged in exclusive dealing conduct for the purpose of substantially lessening competition, when offering to supply atorvastatin to community pharmacies.

Telstra to pay $10 million for misleading premium billing charge representations

The Federal Court has today ordered Telstra to pay penalties of $10 million for making false or misleading representations to customers in relation to its third-party billing service known as “Premium Direct Billing” (PDB), following action by the ACCC.

The Court held, by consent, that Telstra misled customers and breached the ASIC Act when it charged them for digital content, such as games and ringtones, which they unknowingly purchased. Telstra admitted that more than 100,000 customers may have been affected and has committed to offer refunds to these customers.

Court orders Ford to pay $10 million penalty for unconscionable conduct

The Federal Court has declared, by consent, that Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited (Ford) engaged in unconscionable conduct in the way it dealt with complaints about PowerShift transmission (PST) cars, and ordered Ford to pay $10 million in penalties.

The Court held that Ford’s conduct in responding to consumer complaints about Fiesta, Focus and EcoSport vehicles fitted with PST between 1 May 2015 and 29 February 2016 was unconscionable

High Court dismisses Valve’s special leave to appeal application

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.

ACCC welcomes new deputy chair and commissioner reappointments

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims welcomes today’s announcement by the Treasurer Scott Morrison that current ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh has been appointed Deputy Chair from the end of May for a period of five years. Mr Keogh will oversee the ACCC’s small business work in addition to his current role leading our agriculture work.

Cristina Cifuentes and Sarah Court have also been reappointed as Commissioners of the ACCC for a further five years.

Ms Cifuentes has been an ACCC Commissioner since 2013. Ms Court was first appointed in 2008 and reappointed in 2013.

Pental to pay $700,000 in penalties for ‘flushable’ wipes claims

The Federal Court has ordered Pental Limited and Pental Products Pty Ltd (together, Pental) to pay penalties totalling $700,000, for making false and misleading representations about its White King ‘flushable’ toilet and bathroom cleaning wipes.

Pental’s packaging and promotional materials for its White King wipes included statements such as “flushable”, “Simply wipe over the hard surface of the toilet…and just flush away”, and “White King Toilet Wipes are made from a specially designed material, which will disintegrate in the sewage system when flushed, just like toilet paper”.

Flight Centre ordered to pay $12.5 million in penalties

The Full Federal Court of Australia has today ordered Flight Centre to pay penalties totalling $12.5 million for attempting to induce three international airlines to enter into price fixing arrangements between 2005 and 2009.

Flight Centre sought to have each airline agree not to offer airfares on its own website that were less than those offered by Flight Centre.

The matter was remitted to the Full Federal Court for determination of penalty, following the ACCC’s successful appeal to the High Court of Australia in December 2016.

Cardtronics to amend unfair ATM contracts

ATM provider Cardtronics has admitted that its subsidiary, DC Payments, offered contract terms with small business that may be unfair under the Australian Consumer Law.

Cardtronics has given a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC to change terms that may be unfair for businesses under existing contracts.

“Business contracts need to balance the rights of each party to ensure they aren’t unfair, as smaller firms may not always be in a strong negotiating position,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.