Client Acquitted in Consumer Affairs Prosecution

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We are pleased to announce our success in a recent consumer affairs prosecution. One of our valued clients was acquitted of all 10 criminal charges against him following a 2-day trial.

The case involved so-called “Unsolicited Consumer Agreements” under the Australian Consumer Law. Under Australian Consumer Law, certain types of sales transactions between trades people and consumers can be deemed to be “Unsolicited Consumer Agreements” (UCA) which trigger a whole series of provisions that place an onerous burden on businesses.

The laws were intended to address a perceived power imbalance between door-to-door salespeople and vulnerable consumers.  However, the resulting legislation has, in our opinion, created a farcical legal position that unfairly paints legitimate tradespeople as dishonest criminals.

Unsolicited Consumer Agreements allow consumers to refuse to pay for work done by tradespeople, even if the work has been performed as agreed with the consumer and without the consumer providing any reason whatsoever for refusing to pay.

When a business transaction is classified as a UCA, a series of provisions under the Australian Consumer Law are triggered, placing an onus on the supplier of goods or services to comply with requirements such as:

  • provide a notice to the consumer advising the consumer of the rights to terminate and seek a refund even if the goods or services have been provided;
  • not to accept payment from consumer within 10 business days of making an agreement with the consumer for the provision of goods or services (even if the consumer wants to pay);
  • requiring the tradesperson to provide the consumer with the tradesperson’s home address;
  • a prohibition on providing/performing goods/services within 10 days of making an agreement with a consumer, even if the consumer urgently needs the goods/services;

Under the Australian Consumer Law, failure to comply with these requirements constitutes a criminal offence attracting huge fines.

We were able to argue on behalf our client that there was no Unsolicited Consumer Agreement giving rise to the obligations the client was said to have breached in each of the 10 charges.

The client was acquitted of all charges and was awarded costs covering nearly all of his legal fees.

If you have been charged with an offence under Australian Consumer Law, or if you have a question about Unsolicited Consumer Agreements: give us a call on 1300 CRIM WA or fill out an online enquiry and one of our experienced criminal lawyers will be happy to assist you. Paxman & Paxman practice in all areas of criminal law including drug offences, bail applications and applications for spent convictions.