The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is a national independent statutory authority. It administers the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and other Acts. The ACCC promotes competition and fair trade in the market place, regulates national infrastructure industries, and ensures that individuals and businesses comply with the Commonwealth’s competition, fair trading and consumer protection laws.

In fair trading and consumer protection its role complements that of the state and territory consumer affairs agencies (NSW Fair Trading in New South Wales), which administer the mirror legislation of their jurisdictions. As well as education and information the ACCC recommends dispute resolution when possible as an alternative to litigation, can authorise some anti-competitive conduct and will take legal action where necessary.

Enforcement role

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 provides the ACCC with a range of enforcement remedies, including court-based outcomes and court enforceable undertakings. The ACCC also resolves many matters administratively.

The ACCC relies on complaints to identify issues and inform its compliance and enforcement activities, however, the ACCC cannot pursue all the complaints it receives. The ACCC is unlikely to become involved in resolving individual disputes, or disputes that are more appropriately resolved directly between the parties under an industry code (for example through mediation).

While all complaints are carefully considered, the ACCC’s role is to focus on widespread consumer detriment and the ACCC exercises its discretion to direct resources to the investigation and resolution of matters that provide the greatest overall benefit for consumers. The ACCC’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy is available from their website.

For more information see the ACCC website.