Court penalties

Criminal court action may result in fines of up to $200,000 per offence for an individual and $600,000 per offence for a company. Both a company and the individuals involved in a breach can be prosecuted by the Commission.

In the case where the courts find either an individual or company in breach of the pyramid selling provisions of the Fair Trading Act, the maximum penalty of $200,000 for an individual and $600,000 for a company applies, with the court also able to order payment of the equivalent revenue or 'commercial gain' earned from the offending.

The Commission also has the right to apply to the courts for corrective advertising orders. Where it is satisfied that a business has contravened the Act, the court may order the business to:

  • disclose information to the public generally, or to an affected section of the public
  • publish corrective statements.

The business has to bear the costs of this remedial action.

The court may grant a number of other remedial orders, including orders that:

  • a contract be altered or made void
  • money be refunded
  • goods be repaired or services supplied.

An application can be made to the court for these orders up to three years after a contravention was discovered or ought reasonably to have been discovered. The court may order that money be refunded to a consumer even if that consumer is not party to the proceedings before the court.

See the Fair Trading litigation register for cases closed after 1 July 2009. For older cases see back issues of the Commission's publication Communique.

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