On 7 March 2024, in the second year of her tenure as ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb unveiled the ACCC’s 2024-25 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities. This year the priorities were shaped by three key influences: the importance of the transition to net zero, disruption by the digital economy, and the impact of cost of living pressures.

Environmental and sustainability claims, and manipulative marketing and advertising practices in the digital economy, continue as key issues underpinning the ACCC’s priorities for this year alongside anti-competitive conduct.

With Australians facing macroeconomic and inflationary challenges reflected in the price of essential services and groceries, the ACCC has re-emphasised its focus on financial services, energy and telecommunications, and also revealed a number of new focus areas. These include competition, consumer protection, fair trading and pricing in the supermarket and aviation sectors, and online reviews and comparison websites.

A snapshot of some of the ACCC’s key enforcement and compliance priorities mentioned by Ms Cass-Gottlieb include:

Ensuring legitimate environmental and sustainability claims/initiatives – the ACCC continues to prioritise identifying consumer and fair trading issues in relation to environmental claims and sustainability. It has also confirmed a broadened focus this year to include competition and product safety concerns reflecting the transition to net zero and sustainability across the economy. The ACCC has investigations underway for alleged misleading environmental claims, a pipeline that is likely to grow. Its sustainability taskforce will continue to examine a range of issues where environmental and sustainability issues interact with competition and consumer law. We refer to our two previous articles here:

ACCC issues guidance on greenwashing | Australia | Global law firm | Norton Rose Fulbright;

Disciplined ambition: Fair-trading and competition law in ESG | Australia | Global law firm | Norton Rose Fulbright

Grocery pricing – as Australians face cost of living challenges, the ACCC will undertake a 12-month inquiry into competition in the supermarket and grocery sector on direction by the Government. The ACCC has also been looking closely at allegations of false or misleading advertising and pricing promotions by supermarkets.

Aviation – in the ACCC’s view, Australia stands at a critical point in relation to the opportunity for increased competition on domestic routes. It will continue to monitor services, prices and costs in the domestic market. The ACCC’s reinstated monitoring of the airline industry indicated increasing consumer complaints in relation to airlines services.

Essential services – the ACCC will continue to focus on the energy, telecommunications and financial services sectors. It will focus on issues such as transparency and accuracy of product and pricing claims in each of these sectors, building in particular on findings of previous market inquiries in the energy and financial services sectors. Given current cost of living pressures, the ACCC is particularly concerned to ensure that consumers are able to make informed decisions when comparing products and services in these three sectors.

Digital economy – ensuring consumer protection and fair trading in the digital economy continues to be a priority, with a focus on misleading or deceptive behaviour by influencers, online reviews, and comparison websites, in-app purchases in video games, given the vulnerability of many young consumers of these products, is also a focus.

Unfair contract terms – unfair contract terms in consumer and small business contracts carries over as an enforcement priority for the ACCC, especially in light of the recent increases to penalties for unfair contract terms.

Consumer guarantees – the failure of suppliers and manufacturers to honour consumer guarantees is the issue most commonly reported to the ACCC. It has warned its enforcement action this year will focus on the consumer electronics sector.

Enduring priorities – some conduct is considered so harmful to consumers and competition that they remain enduring priorities of the ACCC, including cartel conduct, anti-competitive conduct, scams, product safety, and protecting vulnerable consumers, First Nations consumers, and the small business sector.

Further insights on what is ahead in 2024 and how we can help clients navigate these challenges is available in our recent publication.

We work with our clients to advise on these matters on a daily basis.

Please contact us for further information, assistance or customised training via our award-winning online legal compliance training program, Compliance Manager.


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