By Tim Cox, Partner
The unfair contract terms regime could render terms in your standard form business to business contracts void and unenforceable. Small businesses can challenge standard form contract terms as “unfair” after the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) unfair contract terms regime extended to small business contracts last year. Checking compliance with the regime is prudent particularly with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) prioritising the protection of small businesses under the regime.
A “small business contract” is subject to the unfair contract terms regime when:
Contracts that are entered into, renewed or terms that are varied on and from 12 November 2016 are captured by the regime.
A contract term is “unfair” if:
When determining if a contract term is “unfair” a court will also consider whether the term is available to both parties, is clear and understandable, and the contract as a whole.
If a contract term is found to be “unfair” by a court it will be void and no longer bind the parties, however, the remaining contract can continue to bind the parties. Unenforceable terms could leave a business exposed, for example, if an indemnity or limitation of liability clause is void for being “unfair”, the contract may continue without it.
With the ACCC focusing on protecting small business under unfair contract law this year, and already conducting unfair contract law investigations, it is wise to check standard form business to business contracts for compliance. When was the last time you checked your standard form contracts?
We are offering a service to our clients to audit their simple standard form contracts to check if this regime applies for a fixed fee of $500 per contract.
If you would like advice regarding your standard form contracts, please do not hesitate to contact: