What is Misleading and Deceptive Conduct?

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) offers robust protection against corporate misconduct especially in relation to the supply of services and sale of goods. A wide range of relief is available including compensation and injunctions. In many cases the statutory prohibition against misleading/deceptive conduct.

The prohibition against misleading and/or deceptive conduct in “trade or commerce” applies across the board, not just in relation to consumer transactions or small businesses.

Regardless of the contractual position, a party in breach who would otherwise be liable under the contract can rely on this law to obtain relief against an offending corporation or supplier to have the transaction unwound or terminated and/or to obtain compensation.

Allegations of allegedly misleading conduct in a business transaction must – if they are to rely upon a successful claim – be supported by credible, consistent, and detailed evidence. Vague recollections are insufficient. See here for an example of a case that failed because of insufficient detailed evidence of what was claimed to have occurred.

Claims of this nature can arise from many different types of business behaviour, not just in relation to the supply of goods and services, for example in this case.

Even seemingly innocent conduct can be sufficiently misleading to cause a court to terminate a major commercial transaction. See here an example of such an outcome.

See here for an example of a supplier whose confusing contract terms were held to be misleading.

A business that misinforms its customers about their rights also engages in misleading conduct for which penalties can apply, as occurred in this example.

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Last updated: 14 June 2023