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GRC Professional : GRC Spring 2011
10 grc professional • Spring 2011 10 grc professional • Spring 2011 What Went Wrong? TELCO OPTUS HAS CONFIRMED IT WILL APPEAL A $5.26 MILLION fine relating to contraventions of misleading and deceptive advertising laws made by its Think Big and Supersonic broadband internet advertising campaigns. The ads were widely published and broadcast across media in 2010. The case centred around claims made in the advertisements the plans were ‘unlimited’. At the time the fine was the largest ever civil penalty handed down for misleading advertising. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which mounted the case against Optus, has also launched a number of other actions against a range of telcos for misleading and deceptive advertising. Optus declined to comment on the case. Their decision to appeal indicates that they do not believe anything actually went wrong with their ad campaign, however the fact that it led to a case at all shows how closely the ACCC scrutinises advertising. The finding demonstrates how important it is for businesses to be proactive about monitoring advertising to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Law firm Clayton Utz’s head of advertising and marketing law Chris McLeod advises businesses to “educate marketing staff about applicable laws so they can easily identify potential trouble spots. This might involve face-to-face training to run through real-life examples and risk areas.” McLeod says it’s also an idea to institute a formal procedure for approving advertisements. “If it’s a smaller company, the approval process might require advertisements to be reviewed by the head of marketing and a senior manager. For larger companies, there might be a formalised, online system for approving ads, including the involvement of internal or external legal counsel.” According to McLeod, businesses also need to identify and pay particular X optus to appeal $5.26 million misleading advertising fine an approvals process for advertising could help avoid fines and penalties for misleading claims, experts say. By AlExAndrA CAIn telcos, utilities and online retailers on notice New ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says he will target telcos, utilities and online retailers as he seeks to defend consumers. “We must ... be strategic in deciding on which areas of the economy to give particular focus and over what time frame,” Sims said in a speech to the Law Council on the Gold Coast in August. “To do this, we must ask where is the largest consumer detriment and where do existing market structures or mechanisms need most support?” He also said the ACCC intended to take on more ‘risky’ cases. “We need to take on more cases where we see the wrong but where court success is less assured,” he said. the finding demonstrates how important it is for businesses to be proactive about monitoring advertising to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.
GRC Summer 2012