ACCC – Proceedings instituted against ByteCard Pty Limited for unfair contract terms

From the ACCC:  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Internet Service Provider ByteCard Pty Limited (ByteCard, better known as Netspeed Internet Communications) alleging that a number of clauses in the ByteCard standard form consumer contracts are unfair contract terms and should be declared void.

The alleged unfair contract terms:

  • enable ByteCard to unilaterally vary the price under an existing contract without providing the customer with a right to terminate the contract;
  • require the consumer to indemnify ByteCard in any circumstance, even where the contract has not been breached, and the liability, loss or damage may have been caused by ByteCard’s breach of the contract; and
  • enable ByteCard to unilaterally terminate the contract at any time with or without cause or reason.

The ACCC alleges that these terms are unfair contract terms as defined in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).  They also allege that the terms are not reasonably necessary to protect Bytecard’s legitimate business interests.  The ACCC is seeking declarations that the terms are therefore void.

The ACL’s unfair contract laws came into effect on 1 July 2010.   They allow a court to declare that a standard form consumer contract is unfair and therefore void.  A ‘consumer contract’ is defined in the ACL as a contract for the supply of goods and services or the sale or grant of an interest in land, to an individual who acquires it wholly or predominately for personal, domestic or household use or consumption.

Read more here.

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