Gift cards – proposed changes

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced into Parliament on 16 May 2018 and aims to make gift cards more consumer friendly by providing greater flexibility and certainty for consumers who are often confused by varying rules in relation to gift card expiry dates.

The Bill reduces the detriment caused to consumers when they are forced to redeem gift cards and make purchases that they otherwise might not, simply because of a looming expiry date. It also reduces the financial loss experienced by consumers who do not redeem their gift cards at all, simply because they have been unable to find something that they wish to purchase within the period of time that the gift card is valid.

The Bill eases the pressure placed on consumers by increasing the period of time in which they have to redeem their vouchers, ensuring that they get what they’ve paid for and are more likely to make purchases that they can benefit from.

Gift cards sold in South Australia (SA) will be required to have a minimum expiry period of 3 years. However, the requirements will not apply to gift cards purchased online or over the phone where the gift card is to be delivered to the consumer at an address outside of SA or where the contact details of the consumer provided in connection with the sale of the gift card includes a residential address outside of SA.

Targeted consultation will be undertaken to prescribe categories of gift cards that will be exempt from the new provisions, for example, temporary marketing promotions or vouchers supplied for charitable purposes.

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 is available at www.legislation.sa.gov.au

 


Building contractor pays back customers for unfinished work – assurance

A building contractor has acknowledged that he likely breached consumer protection laws, after allegedly accepting payment for work at homes that he did not complete.
Consumer and Business Services allege that Mr Katsikas accepted payments exceeding $48,000 between February 2016 and March 2017, for building work on four properties which he began but failed to finish.
It is further alleged that Mr Katsikas performed work that was not permitted under his building work contractor’s licence, including paving, concreting and fencing.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Dini Soulio, said that Mr Katsikas’ trading history and recent behaviour were taken into account when determining the appropriate action, noting that Mr Katsikas subsequently compensated all four consumers.
“Mr Katsikas has shown a willingness to remedy the situation, including repaying customers and voluntarily surrendering his licence,” Mr Soulio said.
“He has also held a building work contractor’s licence for many years prior to this without incident.”
Mr Katsikas entered into a written assurance with the Commissioner that states he will not conduct further business unless licensed to do so, and will not accept payment for goods and services that he is unable to deliver within a reasonable time.
A written assurance is a formal undertaking that may be used in certain circumstances, in place of enforcement actions such as prosecution or disciplinary action. A trader that fails to comply with an assurance may be liable for prosecution.

Signed assurance (PDF 175KB)


CBS – educating local hairdressers and barbers

Consumer and Business Services officers were recently visiting salons talking with hairdressers and barbers about the qualifications needed to work in South Australia.

“Our goal this time was to raise awareness and make sure business owners and staff both know what qualifications are needed to work in South Australia.”

CBS officers randomly chose hairdressing and barber businesses in metropolitan Adelaide. They talked with the business owners about the need to check qualifications when hiring and to make sure their own qualifications were valid.

“The response was really positive” said compliance officers. “People were working and busy, so most of the time it was a quick visit and stayed only if people had questions.”

Officers were asked about overseas qualifications and the need for them to be recognised in South Australia. Other topics included the business owner’s responsibility to check staff qualifications before hiring and some general questions about complying with the law.

Officers noted a high level of compliance among South Australian hairdressers and barbers. “There seemed to be a lot of pride in having and improving professional skills. This showed in the types of questions people asked and the information we were able to share,” said compliance officer Naomi Janes

CBS will continue to work with the hairdressing industry. We share the industry’s focus on professional, skilled people so consumers can expect not only a high level of service but a high level of skills when visiting South Australian businesses.

If someone was not appropriately qualified, we would apply a risk based regulatory approach looking at level of penalty, duration of conduct and repeat offenders, consumer detriment v’s industry detriment, public interest and level of profit from the conduct etc.

In South Australia, hairdressers and barbers must be qualified. Employers also have a responsibility to make sure their staff are qualified with a certificate III in hairdressing or barbering. Older or overseas qualifications and experience may also be recognised. Penalties apply to both employers and employees if hairdressing or barbering services are provided without qualifications.


Changes for justices of the peace

Justices of the peace laws have recently changed. These important changes are summarised below:

  • Appointments – can now be made by the Attorney General or a delegate. Previously only the Governor appointed justices of the peace
  • Delegations – the Attorney General may now delegate a function or power to the Comissioner for Consumer Affairs
  • Oath – a justice must take the oath within 3 months of an appointment and does not have to take the oath again if reappointed
  • Suspension – the Attorney General or a delegate may suspend a justice of the peace for up to 2 years if there a reasonable personal reasons. On or before the suspension expires, a justice must notify whether the justice is planning on returning to South Australia before the suspension expires
  • Disciplinary action – a justice of the peace may be reprimanded, have a condition added or suspended if there is a breach of condition of employment or code of conduct. If charged with particular offences, the Attorney General may remove a justice (not special justice) from office
  • False or misleading statement – it is now illegal to make a false or misleading statement in information provided
  • Retired justices – must not use the the desciption of ‘JP (retired)’ for advancing business or commercial interests

Code of conduct changes

A justice of the peace must not:

  • accept money or any other gifts or rewards in connection with their duties
  • excercise power when there is a personal, family, financial or business interest
  • divulge confidential information unless required by law
  • use the office or title to gain business, commerical or personal benefit (some exceptions apply)
  • act dishonestly or act in a way that brings the office into disrepute

Notices

  • A justice must write to the Attorney General, or delegate, within 14 days of any dishonestly rulings found against them
  • A special justice must write to the Chief Magistrate or Judge of the Youth Court within 14 days of any dishonestly rulings found against them

A full list of all changes for Justices of the Peace (PDF 418KB)


Real estate agency not guilty of alleged advertising breaches

An Adelaide Magistrate has found a suburban real estate agent not guilty of breaching the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act.
The Commissioner for Consumer Affairs had alleged Cocks Auld Real Estate had marketed residential land in The Advertiser and local Messenger newspapers below the prescribed minmum advertising price by advertising the land for $550,000 when the vendor’s acceptable price for the sale of the land was $600,000.

Magistrate Paul Bennett found that the documentary evidence did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that the vendor had agreed to an amended selling price of $600,000 before the advertisements were placed. Mr Bennett ordered the Commissioner to pay the defendant’s costs.

Previous statement issued by CBS.

 


Top baby names 2017

Do you need inspiration for your baby’s name? Or are you just interested in the weird and wonderful names parents chose for their little bundles in 2017.

Rare names that sound more like holiday destinations or an exotic cocktail are towards the end of the list. And for most, the unusual spellings are deliberate!

The more popular choices are a little less traditional this year with Harper and Willow making the top 20 for girls, and Hunter and Harvey for the boys. We know it’s a tough decision naming your baby, so choose wisely, or as adults they may be using our services again to change their name!

Here are the full lists.
Boys names

 

Girls names


Real estate agents on notice over sale price misrepresentation – statement

Consumer and Business Services (CBS) has reminded real estate agents of their obligation to accurately represent the likely sale price of properties in advertising and to potential buyers.

It follows a South Australian real estate agent giving an assurance to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs that he will not misrepresent sale prices, after advertising two properties for sale at an amount lower than the vendor’s acceptable selling price.

Read the full statement – Real estate agents on notice over sale price misrepresentation (46KB PDF)

Signed assurance


Steve Jackson Real Estate – assurance

ASSURANCE

Fair Trading Act 1987

Section 79

 

Assurance to the Commissioner for Consumer  Affairs given for the purposes of s79 of the  Fair Trading Act 1987 by:

 

Mr Steve Jackson (ABN 52 626 867 100) TIA Steve Jackson Real Estate

  

PERSONS  GIVING THIS ASSURANCE

1. This Assurance is given to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs (“the Commissioner”) by Mr Steve Jackson trading as Steve Jackson Real Estate in the State  of  South  Australia for the purposes of section 79 of the Fair Trading Act 1987.

 

BACKGROUND

 2. Mr Steve Jackson (ABN 52 626 867 100) (“Mr Jackson”) is a natural person and sole trader.

3. Mr Jackson is a licensed Real Estate Agent providing sales and rental services for commercial and residential properties in South Australia.

4. Section 24A of the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994 requires the advertised price of residential land to be not less than the  prescribed  minimum advertising price.  The prescribed minimum  advertising  price is whichever is the greater  of the vendor’s acceptable selling price and the agent’s estimate of the selling price, as expressed in the Sales Agency Agreement.

 

CONDUCT  OF CONCERN

5. Between May 2016 and September 2016 Mr Jackson advertised the sale price of a property at 1 Graham  Street, Millswood, South  Australia for between $1,100,000 – $1,200,000 in circumstances where both the agent’s estimated sale price and  the  vendor’s  acceptable selling price was $1,200,000.

6. Between October 2016 and December 2016 Mr Jackson advertised the sale price of a property at 48 Hessing Crescent, Trott Park, South Australia for “$355,000 –  $365,000”, and for between “$345,000 – $365,000” in circumstances where both the  agent’s estimated  sale price and the vendor’s  acceptable selling price was $360,000

 

CONTRAVENTIONS

 7. The Commissioner considers and Mr Jackson acknowledges, that it is likely that he has, on two occasions, made a representation (through advertising) as to the likely selling price of   residential land which was less than the prescribed minimum advertising price in contravention of section 24A of the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing Act) 1994.

 

ASSURANCE BY MR STEVE JACKSON, TRADING AS STEVE JACKSON REAL ESTATE, FOR THE PURPOSES OF SECTION 79 OF THE FAIR TRADING ACT 1987

8. In response to the concerns raised by Consumer and Business Services (“CBS”)  on behalf of the Commissioner, Mr Steve Jackson, provides an Assurance to the Commissioner that:

a. Mr Jackson will not make a representation as to the likely selling price of land which is less than the prescribed minimum advertising price in compliance with section 24A of the Land    and Business (Sales and Conveyancing) Act 1994;

b. Mr Jackson will enrol in, and complete to a satisfactory standard within 12 months, two units which form part of the Certificate  IV in Property  Services (Real Estate) and provide evidence of  their  completion to CBS.  These units are:

  • CPPDSM4008A Identify legal and ethical requirements  of property  sales to complete agency work; and
  • CPPDSM4009B Interpret legislation to complete agency

 

COMMENCEMENT  OF ASSURANCE

9.  This Assurance comes into effect when:

 

9.1 The Assurance is executed by Mr Jackson; and

 

9.2 The Commissioner accepts the Assurance so executed.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

10. Mr Jackson acknowledges that:

 

10.1 It is an offence to breach an Assurance, as set out in section 81 of the Fair Trading Act 1987;

10.2  CBS will make this Assurance publicly available including by publishing it on CBS’ public register of undertakings on its website;

 

 

10.3 CBS will, from time to time, make public reference to the Assurance including in news media statements and in CBS publications;

 

10.4 This Assurance in no way derogates from the rights and remedies available to any other person arising from the alleged conduct; and

 

10.5 This Assurance may be produced to any Court in respect of any proceedings alleging any future contraventions of the Fair Trading Act 1987 or a related Act.

Signed public assurance (PDF140KB)

Read full statement


Agent’s conflict of interest – also known as beneficial interest or 24G

From 29 January 2018 there are more stringent guidelines that deal with circumstances where a real estate agent or their associate wants to buy a property the agent has appraised or is authorised to sell.

Definition of an associate

The definition of an associate will be expanded significantly to apply to all employees of an agency, as well as relatives of those employees.  Step-relations will also be classified as relatives.

Using the corporate entity

Directors of real estate agencies will be discouraged from using the corporate entity as a vehicle to gain a beneficial interest through the introduction of a vicarious liability provision, unless it is proven that due diligence was exercised and the director could not have prevented the commission of the offence.

Liability of general managers and managers

Both general managers and managers of individual real estate branches will be liable for the actions of their employees in certain circumstances, unless they can rely upon the general defence that exists in the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) legislation. This encourages high level management to ensure that offences are not committed within their agency.

Managers of individual branches (as opposed to general managers overseeing the corporate entity) will not be liable for transactions occurring in other branches.

Penalties

Penalties will increase from $20,000 to $50,000 for many offences.

Aggravated offences will be introduced for each existing offence, with penalties of up to $100,000 or 2 years imprisonment. Offences will be aggravated if vendors are aged over 70, are under guardianship, or are suffering from a mental incapacity.

Time limit for prosecution

The time limit for prosecution proceedings to be commenced will increase from two years to five years, and up to seven years in extenuating circumstances, to allow for the lengthy nature of property transactions.

Please refer to the associate table (PDF 64KB) for more guidance.

Where there is a beneficial interest

The agent must disclose the conflict of interest to the vendor and seek approval from the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs by way of online application.

Where possible, agents should aim to have settlement of their property before 29 January 2018 or from March onwards. For settlement that occurs from 29 January to 28 February an application to obtain beneficial interest will need to be completed at least three weeks prior to the settlement date to allow enough time for CBS to give the application due consideration.

For more information see apply for a 24G exemption.