The Australian Consumer Legislation in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) ("the ACL") is a single, national law covering consumer protection and fair trading which applies in the same way nationally and in each State and Territory of Australia.
Section 18 of Schedule 2 of the ACL prohibits a person, in trade or commerce, from engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct. Conduct, has a wide meaning in the ACL. Misleading or deceptive conduct could be verbal statements made, advertising or written documents provided prior to entering into a contract, amongst others.
For example if you purchased goods and the seller made misleading or deceptive statements that induced you to enter into a contract with them, you could have a claim pursuant to the ACL.
Section 236 of the ACL provides a right for a person to apply to a court for damages (compensation) if they suffer loss or damage because of the conduct of another person and the conduct was misleading or deceptive.
You have to prove that you relied on the misleading or deceptive conduct, or that you were induced by the misleading or deceptive conduct, to enter a contract and as a result you suffered loss. You would have to prove that you would not have entered the contract or would have taken other action if the misleading or deceptive conduct had not occurred.
The amount of damages that can be recovered is equivalent to the amount required to compensate for the loss or damage resulting from a contravention of the ACL.
There are many scenarios where you may have an option to pursue a claim for compensation for the misleading conduct in the supply of goods and services. If you believe you've been misled, but you're not sure, you should seek experienced legal advice.