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Two businesses in hot water for claiming products were made in Australia

Business in Hot Water

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently targeted two businesses for misleading consumers.

Firstly, Ozwear Connection (Ozwear) created a false impression by making misleading representations to consumers. Between January and April 2018 Ozwear suggested its ‘Classic Ugg’ footwear range were ‘100% Aussie owned’ and made using ‘the best materials available in Australia’. The footwear even had a tag in the shape of Australia which stated, “this exclusive premium label is uniquely Australian owned brand for authentic Australian Ugg boots”.

It turns out the footwear was actually made in China, and therefore Ozwear was misleading consumers. The ACCC considered that “Country of origin representations can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses, as many consumers are willing to pay extra for Australian made products.”

Ozwear was hit with penalties totalling $25,200.00 and the ACCC has stated that “Businesses are warned that making misleading claims or representations about a product’s country of origin will attract ACCC scrutiny and enforcement action.”

Secondly, Birubi Art (Birubi) breached the Australian Consumer Law by claiming its products were made in Australia and hand painted by Australian Aboriginal persons. This was incorrect. Despite the products being made in Indonesia, between July 2015 to November 2017 Birubi sold over 18,000 products using words such as ‘Aboriginal Art’, ‘Genuine’ and ‘Australia’.

Now that a verdict has been reached, a hearing will be held to determine what penalties should be imposed on Birubi.  The ACCC stated: “The ACCC will not hesitate to take further action against traders who mislead consumers about the nature of their products, in order to ensure confidence in the Indigenous Australian art industry”.

It is evident from these two recent cases that breaches of Australian Consumer Law will attract the attention of the ACCC and penalties are likely to follow. Section 18 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) covers misleading and deceptive conduct. It states that ‘a person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.’

This makes it essential for businesses to examine their processes, products, representations and advertising to ensure they are not contravening Australian Consumer Law.

At Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers, we can assist you with understanding and complying with the requirements of Australian Consumer Law including updating your terms and conditions, provide legal advice on your disclaimers or your marketing material. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any enquiries.

Contact Coutts today.

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

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