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Australian consumer law changes

10 May 2021

The Australian Consumer Law was amended in December 2020 to clarify that two or more minor failures of a product would be classified as a ‘major failure' entitling a consumer to repair, replacement, refund and consequential loss.

The change determines that two or more ‘minor failures can become a ‘major failure' and give consumers the right to choose between a replacement, refund or repair for the purchased consumer goods.

Consumer goods are defined as those under $40,000 (including business to business transactions) or those over $40,000 that are normally bought for personal or household use. For goods or services supplied after 1 July 2021, this threshold amount will increase to $100,000.

A consequence of the new law will likely be that more consumers will ask for a refund or new product rather than a repair, even if the fault is repairable and minor. This change will likely have the unintended consequence that more products will end up in landfill rather than be repaired. This is at a time when the lighting industry is implementing circular economy principles by developing standards to encourage maintenance and repair rather than disposal.

Lighting Council Australia has discussed the changes with the Australian Government Treasury. Treasury stated that further changes are possible in this area and we begin consultation in the next few months. Lighting Council Australia will provide more information to its members regarding the changes and actions that suppliers and retailers are always entitled to take - source Illuminations April 2021.

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