National Contract Fairness Day! It’s arrived

November 10, 2016

Let’s celebrate the coming of fairness – the start of better innovation, hospital productivity and diversity. The recognition of the small business person as a real person who is in many ways just like a consumer – human.

 

It’s not the solution to everything but by jingo it’s a great leap forward.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, men and women, boys and girls – it’s been a long time coming but it is here. Fairness and equity for the self-employed is something that might now actually happen.

 

Changes will come into force on Saturday 12 November 2016 that create fairness and equity for people in contracts.  That day will forever be known as “Contract Fairness Day” (CFD for short). Indeed we fully expect that this day will soon be declared a public holiday in Victoria, the NT and the ACT (and why not everything else has been).

 

These changes mean that contract negotiations between the people who run a small business and big businesses now has a greater chance of reflecting reality. The small business person is to be given many of the rights already given to other people in society.  For example the right to have unfairness removed from contracts.  That’s correct as hard as it is to believe up until Saturday 12 November 2016 there was not any fairness in small business to big business in negotiations and contracts unless it was voluntary from the big business - as if that’d happen.

 

Up until CFD big businesses can basically do whatever they want – change contracts, change prices, cease contracts, move shops, increase rents by ridiculous amounts, screw people over, destroy businesses, change the rules and create havoc and we, the person involved as the one taking the risk, couldn’t do a thing – nothing except maybe waste our money in a long court case of some sort.  Because that is what those big businesses (some who, believe it or not, lack any sort of moral compass) would do.  Even when they knew they were wrong they felt safe They knew that if a small business person was foolish enough to demand their rights and go to court all they (the big business) had to do was to make sure a court case went just long enough for the small business person to run out of money and go bankrupt. Often that person lost not just their house but also their relationship and their health.  The big businesses involved couldn’t give a damn (from what we heard).

 

Now why did this happen?  Well first of all let’s point the finger at the great friends of big nasty businesses who are the laissez-faire economists (the very same people who caused the global financial crisis but I digress).  They would make huge statements like “B2B negotiations are equal” or “when you go into business you know what you are getting into” or even such deep meaningful statements like “that’s life get over it”.

 

Excellent, hooray and about time these frauds and charlatans have been confronted. They won’t give up easy, this is not yet everything we need and we’ll have to be ever vigilant but by gee it is a start.

 

This change was resisted for too long by the biggest businesses in Australia: the landlords, retailers like Wesfarmers (what’s with the West?) and the Franchise Council of Australia (and to give credit the FCA has supported the latest changes – we think).  It was also resisted by the banks but they are busy at the moment trying to saved their reputations.

 

As I say this is just a start, there is lot of water to pass under that bridge of fairness, currently it is muddy water (more Yarra than Derwent) but given time we hope it will clear-up support life and we’ll see the nurturing of young elvers and fingerlings of innovation, the slippery blighters.

 

There are still issues and a lot of work to be done but we have a good ACCC ready to do its job.  Indeed the ACCC has made a “Call to action for small business” – see their recommendations copied direct from their media release below:

From the ACCC (for self-employed people)

 

B2B Unfair Contract Terms

 

What to do if you think a term in your contract is unfair:

 

Ask the other party to remove the term or amend it so it is no longer unfair.

 

Contact your local state or territory consumer protection agency (fair trading or consumer affairs), your local Small Business Commissioner (if applicable), or the national Australian Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

 

Contact the ACCC’s small business helpline on 1300 302 021 or lodge an online report form by visiting

www.accc.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-accc/report-a-small-business-issue 

 

For unfair terms in relation to financial products and services, contact the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) general enquiries helpline on 1300 300 630 or visit www.asic.gov.au

 

Talk to a lawyer about your options.

 

 

 

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