In October last year we told you about the Federal Court’s finding that Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (“Coles”) was liable for three contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law for their false and misleading representations in marketing its bread as being baked fresh daily.
The crux of the allegation made against Coles by the ACCC was that the bread was, in fact, not baked fresh because it was often par-baked from dough made overseas and supplied frozen, and only the final baking stages were completed at Coles before it was sold.
In addition to the Court declarations made in September 2014 that Coles’ conduct were misleading and deceptive and its representation was false or misleading, in April this year Chief Justice Allsop of the Federal Court further ordered that Coles pay to the Commonwealth $2.5 million as a penalty for its contraventions. Coles were also ordered to pay the ACCC’s costs of the proceeding.
The recent orders are a timely reminder of the fact that contraventions of obligations to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law can attract hefty penalties, even where there is no evidence that any of the consumers suffered a loss because of the contravention.
If you need legal advice on how to navigate around the law and ensure that your business is compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, please contact Su-Ann Loh (Senior Associate, Dispute Resolution) on (03) 9629 9629.