BDW has alerted me to the fact that:

‘The NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice has released their final report on the inquiry into unfair terms in consumer contracts. This is likely to have a direct impact on users of internet, mobile phone and cable television services, amongst others. … The Committee has recommended creating a taskforce within the NSW Office of Fair Trading to develop and implement a scheme for the protection of consumers in relation to unfair terms in consumer contracts. The scheme will be based on the Victorian model.’

I think this is an interesting development, but it also puts me in mind of something that Mark Lemley points out in a new paper – that it’s not just consumers who are affected by so-called ‘unfair contracts’:

‘The rise of terms of use has drawn a great deal of attention because of the mass-market nature of the resulting agreements. Terms of use are drafted with consumers or other small end users in mind. Commentators – myself among them – have focused on the impact of this new form of contract on consumers. But in the long run they may have their most significant impact not on consumers but on businesses. … Businesses … are presumed to know what they are doing when they access another company’s Web site, so courts are more likely to bind them to that site’s terms of use. Sophisticated economic entities are unlikely to persuade a court that a term is unconscionable. And because employees are agents whose acts bind the corporation, the proliferation of terms of use means that a large company is likely agreeing to dozens or even hundreds of different contracts every day, merely by using the Internet. And because no one ever reads those terms of use, those multiple contracts are likely to have a variety of different terms that create obligations inconsistent with each other and with the company’s own terms of use. ‘