Australia has legislation in place to protect consumers who borrow money. A national regime was introduced in July 2010. Prior to that date, the States each had individual (although very similar) pieces of legislation which protected consumers. The ealier legislation was called the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC).
The National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) (the "NCCPA"), includes the National Credit Code ("NCC") as Schedule 1 to the Act and commenced on 1 July 2010 and many aspects of the NCC are identical to the UCCC.
The transitional arrangements mean that many credit contracts entered into under the UCCC (that is between 1 November 1996 and 30 June 2010) are also covered by the NCC. Schedule 1, S2A of the NCCP (Transitional and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 (Cth) provides that if a credit contract is a “carried over instrument”, the NCC will apply to the credit contract, notwithstanding it was entered into prior to 1 July 2010. Legal advice should be sought to confirm which Code applies to a particular credit contract if there is any doubt.
The NCCPA requires all organisations who provide credit to consumers to be licensed. It is a condition of an Australian Credit Licence that the licensee is a member of an external dispute resolution scheme, which aims to ensure that access to justice is maintained for consumers.
Organisations who hold an Australian Credit Licence now must comply with laws regarding responsible lending, as well as give consumers the opportunity to ask for a variation of the credit contract where the consumer is suffering hardship. More detail about these protections is covered later in the chapter.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is now responsible for regulation of consumer credit under the NCCPA and NCC. It produces a number of guides which are useful for more detailed information for consumers and for credit providers, which are available on the ASIC website.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.