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Australian Federal Court Hands down judgment against Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd – A Consumer Protection Perspective

This article aims to briefly examine the recent Australian Federal Court’s judgment in Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 875 and what it means for consumers where the consumers are subject to misleading or deceptive conduct and false or misleading representations. (Consumer Protection) Summary of what was heard […]

Australian Federal Court Hands down judgment against Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd – A Consumer Protection Perspective

Australian Federal Court Hands down judgment against Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd – A Consumer Protection Perspective

By Aylward Game - Aug 1, 2022 Consumer Law

This article aims to briefly examine the recent Australian Federal Court’s judgment in Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 875 and what it means for consumers where the consumers are subject to misleading or deceptive conduct and false or misleading representations. (Consumer Protection)

Summary of what was heard in the Court? 

In this proceeding, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission in its case against Samsung Australia (which Samsung Australia admitted to) alleged that Samsung Australia published 9 advertisements and marketing material representing to consumers in Australia that certain Galaxy smartphone models (S7, S7 Edge, A5 (2017), A7 (2017), S8, S8 Plus and Note 8)) launched in Australia between March 2016 and August 2017 would be suitable to be submerged in a pool or sea water. This is in the circumstances where according to the Commission, there was a material prospect that the charging port of those Galaxy phones might be damaged due to corrosion if the Galaxy phones were submerged in such water and were then charged or attempted to be charged while some water remained in the charging port.

Why such representation is unlawful? 

This, among other things, is due to the fact that section 18 of Australian Consumer law (ACL) provides that a person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive. Section 29(1)(a) of ACL also provides that a person must not, in trade or commerce, in connection with the supply or possibly supply of goods or services or in connection with the promotion by any means of the supply or use of goods or services: (a) make a false or misleading representation that goods are of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style or model or have had a particular history or particular previous use …

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How does the Court assess whether the conduct is misleading or deceptive?

The Court will assess and examine whether the conduct in question viewed as a whole and in context, has a sufficient tendency to lead a person exposed to the conduct into error. For instance, the person subject to the misleading or deceptive conduct may form an erroneous assumption or conclusion about some fact in relation to the product so represented.

Other factors the Court must take into account

When a conduct in the course of trade is directed to the public generally, quite similar to the facts in Campomar Sociedad Limitada v Nike International Limited [2000] HCA 12, the Court must consider the likely characteristics of the persons who comprise the relevant class of persons to whom the conduct is directed and consider the likely effect of the conduct on ordinary or reasonable members of the class, disregarding reactions that might be regarded as extreme or fanciful.

What were the characteristics of Samsung Australia’s advertisements?

The Court heard that the parties to the proceeding agree that the advertisements represented to consumers in Australia that the Galaxy phones would be suitable to be submerged in a pool or sea water.

What judgment the Court Handed down?  

The Court gave some weight to the fact that the Commission and Samsung Australia had agreed to propose a $14 million penalty against Samsung Australia and the Court was satisfied that the penalty was appropriate for all the contravening conduct. The Court was further satisfied that the penalty will carry a sufficient sting so as to deter Samsung Australia from a repetition of similar conduct and it should serve as a salutary reminder to other large providers of smartphones to avoid such conduct.

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Full case of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 875 may be accessed using the following link:

https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2022/2022fca0875

For advice or assistance with all consumer and product matters, contact the Consumer Law Team at Aylward Game Solicitors today on 1800 217 217

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You may also like to know more information about the related article:

Proof Of Purchase: Should I Obtain Receipt For My Purchase?

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