Unfair contracts legislation is now set to apply to small businesses. Pursuant to the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Act 2015 (Cth) (“Amendment Act”), from 12 November 2016 the unfair contracts regime found in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (“ACL”) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth) (“ASIC Act”) will be extended from only protecting consumers to include protection for small businesses.
The updated legislation will provide that:
Small business contract
A contract will be a small business contract if:4
Calculation of employees
In calculating the number of people that a business employs, a head count approach (regardless of an employee’s hours or workload) is used. Casual employees are to be counted only if they are employed on a regular or systemic basis, to account for seasonal variations. This is the approach used in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Upfront price payable
“Upfront price payable” means the consideration that is provided, or is to be provided, for the supply under the contract and is disclosed at or before the time the contract is entered into. It does not however include any other consideration that is contingent on the occurrence or non-occurrence of a particular event.
Standard form contract
The legislation provides that a contract will be presumed to be standard form unless the applicant party proves otherwise. In determining whether a contract is standard form or not, the Court must take into account a number of factors (in addition to other factors it deems relevant).  Some of these factors include whether one of the parties had all the bargaining power and whether the contract was presented on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ basis.
A term will be considered unfair if:
In determining whether the term fits within this definition of unfair, the Court must take into account the extent to which the term is transparent and the contract as a whole. A term will be considered transparent if it is:
Examples of unfair terms include terms that permit unilateral variation of a contract or unilateral termination of the contract.
Applicability of the new legislation
The incoming legislation will only apply to:
Accordingly, if you believe that you fall within any of these categories and require advice, or believe that you have been subject to an unfair contract term; contact our experienced team at Cronin Litigation Lawyers on (07) 5592 6633 today.
 Applying only to issues arising in the financial services sector.
 section 23 of the ACL and section 12BF of the ASIC Act.
 Pursuant to sections 23(3) of the ACL and 12BF(3) of the ASIC Act, a ‘consumer contract’ is a contract for the supply of goods or services, or the sale or grant of an interest in land, to an individual for personal, domestic or household use or consumption.
 Pursuant to sections 23(4) of the ACL and 12BF(4) of the ASIC Act
 This threshold was chosen on the basis that it is a commonly used head count measure and has been found by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to provide a good proxy for a small business - Explanatory Memorandum, Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Bill 2015, p19.
 ACL, 23(5) and ASIC Act, 12BF(5).
 Explanatory Memorandum, Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Bill 2015, p12.
 ACL, s26(2) and ASIC Act, s12BI(2).
 ACL s27 and ASIC Act s12BK.
 ACL s27 and ASIC Act s12BK.
 Pursuant to section 24(1) of the ACL and section 12BG(1) of the ASIC Act
 ACL s24(2) and ASIC Act s12BG(2).
 See section 25 of the ACL and section 12BH of the ASIC Act which provide further examples of unfair terms.
In Other News
It is often the case that small businesses and borrowers will enter into contracts with their financial institutions thinking they have little to no negotiating power when it comes...continue...
Five weeks after enacting its Covid-19 Emergency Response Act 2020, Queensland has finally passed the necessary regulations to implement the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Cond...continue...
Cronin Miller Litigation is a Gold Coast based law firm specialising in resolving commercial disputes, and providing effective results for persons who have a claim of a commercial nature.Contact us today