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In brief

The Treasury Laws Amendment (More Competition, Better Prices) Act 2022 (“Act“) received royal assent on 9 November and is now in force. As previously reported in our detailed alert on the bill (here) it:

  1. Prohibits the proposal, use of and reliance on unfair contract terms (UCTs) in standard form consumer and small business contracts and introduces civil penalties for breaches of the UCT provisions for the first time
  2. Increases the maximum penalties that may be awarded against corporations for breaches of the civil penalty provisions in Parts IV, IVBA, X and XICA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to the greater of:
    • AUD 50 million;
    • If the court can determine the value of the benefit obtained — three times the value of that benefit
    • If the court cannot determine the value of the benefit obtained — 30% of the body corporate’s adjusted turnover during the breach turnover period for the offence, act or omission;
  3. Increases the maximum penalties for individuals to AUD 2.5 million
  4. Increases the maximum civil penalty for breaches by telecommunications providers of the Competition Rule, to up to AUD 71 million plus AUD 3 million for every day that a contravention continues in the most serious cases.

The increased penalty regime applies immediately, to conduct engaged in from 10 November 2022. There is a 12-month grace period for the commencement of the UCT provisions, which will come into force on 10 November 2023.

Key takeaways

Maximum penalties for contraventions of the CCA and ACL have significantly increased, effective immediately, exposing business to very substantial risk. The need for robust policies, systems and training to ensure compliance with the legislation has never been more important.

The application of the penalty provisions to UCTs in 12 month’s time fundamentally changes the risk to businesses such that it will no longer be possible to include “borderline” unfair terms in standard form contracts. Businesses should use the coming year to prepare by identifying all commercial partners who may fall within the expanded definition of “small business”, thoroughly examining all standard form small business and consumer contracts for potential unfair terms, and making necessary changes to avoid contraventions of the new regime. 

We expect that following the commencement of the new UCT regime, both the ACCC and ASIC will closely scrutinise standard form contracts and will not hesitate to bring enforcement proceedings in appropriate cases.

For advice and assistance in navigating the proposed changes, including steps that can be taken to reduce your exposure to the significantly increased penalties, please contact our team of experts.


Lynsey Edgar is a partner in the Sydney dispute resolution team, whose practice focuses on competition and consumer law. She is global co-lead of the Firm's Competition Litigation Taskforce. Lynsey is recognised in Legal500 (Competition and Trade, Australia, 2022), where she is described by clients as having "high commercial acumen" and providing "clear and commercial merger control advice". Client feedback to Chambers & Partners states that Lynsey is "outstanding in her ability to advise on complex matters". Lynsey is a member of the Law Council of Australia's Competition and Consumer Committee, and has spoken widely on topics including compliance with competition law and responding to regulatory investigations.


Georgina Foster is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Sydney office and leads the Firm’s Australian competition practice.


Helen Joyce is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Dispute Resolution Practice Group in Melbourne. She joined the Firm in 2010 having spent the prior decade practising as a solicitor in London. Helen is recognised in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers Australia for Competition Law and Litigation.


Anne-Marie Allgrove is a partner in the Sydney office of Baker McKenzie. She is the Global Chair of the Firm’s IP, Data and Technology Practice. Anne-Marie is recognised in both Chambers and The Legal 500 as a leading individual and was named a Best Lawyer of the Year for Privacy and Data Security in 2020.


Jonathan Flintoft is a partner in the Sydney office of Baker McKenzie where he advises on intellectual property law (particularly brand protection and trade mark prosecution), commercial law and consumer law. He has almost 20 years of experience advising on the selection, registration and protection of trade marks in Australia and globally. Jonathan joined the Firm's London office in 1999 and relocated to Sydney in July 2005. He was appointed partner in 2015.


Adrian Lawrence is the head of the Firm's Asia Pacific Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group. He is a partner in the Sydney office of Baker McKenzie where he advises on media, intellectual property and information technology, providing advice in relation to major issues relating to the online and offline media interests. He is recognised as a leading Australian media and telecommunications lawyer.


Toby Patten is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Technology and Healthcare teams in Melbourne. He joined the Firm in March 2005.


Anne has been with Baker McKenzie since 2001. Prior to that, she spent four years with the Australian Attorney-General's Department/Australian Government Solicitor mostly working on large IT projects. In her time at Baker McKenzie, Anne has spent 18 months working in London (2007-2008) and more recently three years working in Singapore (2017-2020). Anne is currently the Asia Pacific head of the International Commercial & Trade Group and global co-lead of the Firm's supply chain client solutions initiative.

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