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Calls for increased protections to level the playing field for consumers

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A consumer justice fund and a cap on legal costs are just two initiatives that are needed to create a more level playing field for consumers, according to Australia’s largest consumer law firm.

Slater and Gordon made the recommendations in its submission to the Australian Consumer Law Review, calling for further strengthening of the laws to promote greater equity for every day Australians.

Senior litigation lawyer Tim Finney said the recommendations would be particularly important for individual consumers, who cannot compete with the finances and resources at the disposal of large corporations.

“Slater and Gordon has seen thousands of Australians with valid claims, who are reluctant to exercise their legal rights because of the costs associated with taking on big business,” he said.

“By capping legal costs orders, the consumer will not be burdened by having to pay the excessive legal fees incurred by a business if costs are awarded against them.

“The submission also highlights the benefits of a justice fund, available to consumers who have legitimate claims but do not have the capacity to fund their claims themselves.

“It is important that the balance of justice is restored, by ensuring consumers are given a level playing field with businesses.”

Mr Finney said public consultation was an important opportunity to review the current laws and to ensure they are appropriately administered to address new and emerging matters.

“I commend Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand for their work in preparing the issues papers and look forward to seeing the final report in March 2017.”