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Stay within the law

Maintain an honest reputation by complying with fair trading laws.

On this page

  • Comply with Australian consumer law
  • Enhance your reputation with customers

What you need to know about fair trading

Complying with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the Fair Trading Act 1999 helps to reduce the risk of breaking the law and facing the expense of legal proceedings. It can also help to improve your customer relations and enhance your reputation as a business that deals fairly with customers, competitors and suppliers alike.

When running your business you need to meet the following requirements.

Fair contracts

Contracts must be clear and fair, meaning there is a healthy balance between you and the consumer.

Receipts and itemised bills

Receipts must be provided for amounts over $50 or if requested, itemised receipts should be provided to anyone who asks for one.

Refunds and exchanges

Your refund and exchange policy must be clearly spelled out and comply with the Fair Trading Act 1999. Adding a 'no refunds or exchange' note to your website doesn't prevent you from having to offer a refund or exchange if the goods are faulty, don't match the product description or are unfit for their intended purpose.


Product and service descriptions must be correct and you must give your contact details. The price of goods and service must stay the same for a reasonable length of time and you must have reasonable quantities available. Find out more about honest ways to advertise your business.

No unconscionable conduct

This includes pressuring customers into purchases, unscrupulous behaviour, creating a false sense of urgency and using unacceptable verbal or physical behaviour.

These requirements mean your website needs to display your full business address or telephone number, the total price of any goods and services you are selling and how much you charge for postal and delivery fees.

Unfair market practices

Visit the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) website to find out more about unfair market practices, industry codes of practice, mergers and acquisitions of companies, product safety, collective bargaining, product labelling, price monitoring, and the regulation of industries such as telecommunications, gas, electricity and airports.

Small businesses that buy or sell goods by weight, volume or length also need to comply with the National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009. Businesses that are caught short-measuring their customers can be fined up to $170,000 per offence. For more information on this issue, visit the National Measurement Institute website.

Legal Considerations for online businesses

If you are running any aspect of your business online, the main laws that apply in Victoria are:

  • The Spam Act 2003
  • The Privacy Act 1988
  • The Electronic Transactions Act 1999
  • The (Victorian) Electronic Transactions Act 2000.


Businesses have an obligation to protect customer privacy – and especially if your customers are buying from you online. They need to know that you are doing your utmost to protect their information.

The Federal Privacy Act 1988 regulates information privacy and covers a number of different activities and sectors. Even if your business is not captured under the Privacy Act, maintain best practice privacy practices to maintain your credibility in the marketplace.

Provide a privacy statement and privacy policy to your customers. A business privacy statement should outline:

  • whether you collect personal information, what personal information you collect and how you store it
  • what you do - and don’t do with the information, e.g. whether you share it with other organisations
  • how people can contact you regarding the information you hold about them
  • how you will correct inaccuracies or delete information you hold about a customer. 

If you are collecting information collected about your customers it should be:

  • accurate
  • up-to-date
  • secure from unauthorised access – even from employees and contractors who do not need to see that information as part of their job.

Privacy policy template (DOCX 26.88 KB)DOCX icon 

Cyber Security

Cyber security involves keeping your networks and data secure from unwanted attacks and is an important consideration when you are building a website. Good cyber security will help you meet your privacy obligations and ensure that your business can operate continuously and avoid interruptions due to security issues. Cyber security includes three key areas:

  • preventing viruses from infiltrating your device or network
  • preventing data loss
  • preventing identity theft, including scams or another person accessing your wireless network.