The Fair Trading Amendment Act 2021, which was passed into law in August, bans unconscionable conduct in trade and prohibits businesses from having unfair contract terms in their small business contracts.
The Act amends the Fair Trading Act 1986 in two key ways.
- Unconscionable conduct: The legislation prohibits unconscionable conduct in trade. It does not define what ‘unconscionable conduct’ is, but it does provide a list of factors for the court to consider when assessing unconscionable conduct, including:
- The relative bargaining power between the person engaging in the conduct and the person affected by the conduct
- The extent to which the trader and an affected person acted in good faith, and
- Whether unfair pressure or undue influence was used.
- Unfair contract terms: The Act extends the existing protections against unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contracts to include small business contracts.
The legislation defines this as a contract for the provision of goods or services between businesses where the value of the relationship between the businesses is less than $250,000 (including GST).
These two changes will come into force on 16 August 2022. This gives businesses just under one year to review their small business contracts to ensure they comply with the new requirements. The Commerce Commission is expected to release guidance on what unfair terms might look like for small business contracts.
Be aware, however, that some minor changes in the legislation are already in force.
If you would like some guidance on how this legislation affects your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us.