Accountants on the 'front line' to review unfair contracts
Accountants are well placed as a first line of defence to help identify unfair contract terms in a bid to level the playing field for small businesses, says the Institute of Public Accountants.
The IPA’s Vicki Stylianou said the new business-to-business unfair contract terms law passed last November was a step in the right direction but urged accountants to start reviewing contracts to ensure implementation on the ground.
“Accountants being on the front line can certainly say to their clients ‘let’s have a look at your contracts and get them reviewed’,” said Ms Stylianou.
“A lot of people probably won’t want to pay for legal advice on whether or not a term may or may not be considered unfair, but at least they should start by having a review of all their contracts.
“With so many things, we do all these legislations and everybody consults with each other but then it has to be implemented and used.”
In the past six months, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has engaged with a number of businesses including Uber, Fairfax Media, Jetts Fitness, Lendlease Property Management and Sensis to amend their standard form contracts as a result of the new law.
ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper said the regulatory body would ramp up investigations and take further enforcement action to provide protection for small businesses.
“The ACCC is committed to ensuring small businesses receive the protections of the new business-to-business unfair contract terms law, franchising and other industry codes,” said Dr Schaper.
“However, despite the number of businesses that have amended their standard form contracts, the ACCC is prepared to take court action in the coming months to ensure compliance with the new law on unfair contract terms.”