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News >> Asia Pacific

The Supreme Court of Victoria (VSC) has announced that it has approved an AU$25 million settlement of the class action brought against the manufacturer, exporter and distributor of Bonsoy soy milk products in a judgment delivered on 7 May 2015. According to the VSC, Bonsoy was reformulated in 2003 "to include a product known as kombu extract instead of kombu powder", which likely increased the iodine content of the soy milk, and allegedly lead to 496 people suffering illness including thyroid problems.

Published in Consumer Protection

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has handed down the commissioner's determination in Grubb v Telstra Corporation Ltd [2015] AlCmr 35 (1 May 2015), in which it was found that telecommunications company Telstra Corporation Ltd (Telstra) interfered with the complainant's privacy by refusing to provide him with access to the metadata held by Telstra in relation to his mobile phone, which was in breach of the former National Privacy Principle 6.1 of the Privacy Act 1988 No. 119 (Cth) (the Act). According to the OAIC, the geo-location metadata held by Telstra constituted "personal information" for the purposes of s. 6 of the Act, despite the data itself being anonymous, meaning that Telstra was obliged to provide that information on the request of the complainant.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Federal Court of Australia has ordered energy company AGL South Australia Pty Ltd (AGL) to pay penalties of A$700,000 and to provide refunds to 23,000 consumers totalling approximately A$780,000 after AGL made false or misleading representations in relation to discounts that certain residential consumers would receive.

Published in Consumer Protection

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that online group buying website operator Spreets Pty Ltd (Spreets) has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay AU$600,000 in penalties for making false or misleading representations to consumers about deals offered on its website.

Published in Consumer Protection

South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that HSBC has apologised and removed a hyperlink on its website that was unintentionally linked to an adult media site. Reportedly, the link previously directed users to a third-party website relating to the bank's now defunct Young Entrepreneur Awards and the web address had since been overtaken by a pornography business. HSBC has reportedly advised the public that its online banking services remain secure.

Published in Other

AirAsia X Berhad (AirAsia X), an affiliate carrier of airline business the AirAsia Group (AirAsia) has apologised for the cancellation of certain Adelaide–Kuala Lumpur flights in January 2015 and the re-routing of certain Melbourne–Denpasar flights in December 2014. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), some consumers "incurred additional out-of-pocket expenses" as a result of the cancellations, while the re-routings were necessitated by AirAsia X's "[failure to] obtain regulatory approval from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority in time to commence [direct] flights between Melbourne and Denpasar from [26] December 2014 as advertised". The ACCC advises that it has obtained a commitment from AirAsia X to address affected consumers' complaints.

Published in Consumer Protection

The office of Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has announced that the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCCA) has granted an injunction against hairdresser Nelvin Lal, "restraining [him] from underpaying any staff he employs in the future", with the effect that Mr Lal "could potentially face contempt of court proceedings for any further underpayments proven in Court". The FCCA has also imposed a A$20,000 fine on Mr Lal and fines amounting to A$142,000 on his businesses, as well as ordering that the underpayment of four employees be rectified. This follows findings that the workers had been underpaid more than A$6,000 between June 2012 and September 2013, and that "[w]orkplace laws relating to issuing of payslips and responding to a [c]ompliance [n]otice were also breached". Acting ombudsman Michael Campbell stated that "injunction was sought in response to the [FWO's] concern about a pattern of non-compliant behaviour".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Federal Court of Australia has ordered Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (Coles) to pay penalties of [AU$2.5 million] for making false or misleading representations and engaging in misleading conduct in relation to its bread products.

ACCC alleged that Coles promoted some of its bread products as freshly baked and in some cases freshly baked on-site, when the products had actually been "partially baked and then frozen off site by a supplier, transported and 'finished' at in-store bakeries within Coles supermarkets".

According to ACCC chairperson Rod Sims, the ACCC brought the claim against Coles because it was concerned that the supermarket's claims about its bread would mislead consumers and place "independently-owned and franchised bakeries that entirely bake bread from scratch each day at a competitive disadvantage".
ACCC's media release (10 April 2015)
(Source: ACCC)

Published in Consumer Protection

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer have jointly announced that in "Australia's largest insider trading case", two men have been sentenced to prison terms of seven years and three months, and three years and three months respectively, for "insider trading, money laundering and abuse of public office offences". According to ASIC, the convictions related to the sharing of sensitive information between an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) employee and a National Australia Bank employee for the purpose of "enter[ing] into foreign exchange derivative products and profit[ing] from favourable movements in market prices".
Joint media release (17 March 2015)
(Source: ASIC; Assistant Treasurer; Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer)

Published in Insider Trading

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that AMP Ltd subsidiary Australian Financial Planning Solutions Pty Ltd has been fined (12 January 2015) A$10,200 for making false or misleading representations in an article that appeared on its website in 2014.

According to ASIC, the article, which was titled "Benefits of a self-managed super fund":

  • "contained misleading and unsubstantiated claims that major retail and industry superannuation funds will experience payout difficulties"; and
  • "misrepresented the taxation implications of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), by giving the impression that certain tax benefits only apply to SMSFs, when they actually apply to most superannuation funds".

ASIC's media release (12 March 2015)
(Source: ASIC)

Published in Consumer Protection
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