Tuesday, 30 April 2013

NEWS FLASH - Infringement notice penalties increased substantially

In January 2013, the ACCC issued the following advice on its website:

Important notice - Increase in value of penalty units January 2013

Important notice for printed and electronic information and publications provided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The ACCC is reviewing this website and its publications to reflect the increase in the value of penalty units.
Increase in the value of penalty units

Several of the penalties administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are calculated using penalty units rather than dollar figures. On 28 December 2012 the value of a penalty unit increased from $110 to $170.
The implications of this legislative change are that, in relation to penalties calculated using penalty units:

  • administrative penalties (in the case of the ACCC, infringement penalty notices) will be increase 

  • maximum available penalties for some court-imposed fines will also rise.
The new penalty unit value will only apply to contraventions that occur on or after 28 December 2012. This means that the changes will not impact on contraventions that occur before 28 December 2012, or current proceedings for contraventions that took place before that date.

The penalty unit value has not been adjusted since 1997.

Under the new legislation, the value of the penalty unit will be reviewed every three years.

In other words, all penalties in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which are expressed in terms of penalty units have increased by more than 50%.

Significantly, the penalties which can be obtained by the ACCC through an infringement notice have increased, as follows:

  • individuals from $1,320 to $2,040 per contravention 
  • unlisted corporations from $6,600 to $10,200 per contravention 
  • listed corporations from $66,000 to $102,000 per contravention 
The penalties for contraventions of other substantive provisions of the ACL are expressed in dollar terms, so they have remained at the same levels as before December 2012.

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