This fact sheet is for information only. It is recommended that you get legal advice about your situation.
Download our printer friendly version here (PDS): National Credit Law
THE CONSUMER CREDIT LAW PROVIDES IMPORTANT CONSUMER PROTECTIONS FOR YOU.
There are two laws that are relevant:
BEFORE 1 JULY 2010
The Consumer Credit Code (the “Credit Code”). This was uniform State based legislation.
AFTER 1 JULY 2010
The National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (the “Credit Act”). This is national legislation. This includes the National Credit Code. All contracts that are covered by the Credit Code immediately before 1 July 2010 will be covered by the National Credit Code from 1 July 2010, but some of the old Credit Code provisions will apply to these loans rather than the new provisions.
CREDIT LAWS PROVIDE YOU IMPORTANT PROTECTIONS SUCH AS:
- Requiring certain information to be disclosed on the loan contract;
- The right to apply for a repayment arrangement on the grounds of financial hardship;
- A default notice giving at least 30 days to repay any arrears must be issued before court action or repossession;
- Procedures to be followed for the repossession of goods (which includes cars).
The above is not a complete list and you should seek legal advice if you have a dispute or you are in financial hardship.
AS A GUIDE, THE CREDIT ACT WILL APPLY IF:
- There is a loan (“deferred debt”);
- The lender is in the business of providing loans;
- A charge is made for providing the credit (e.g. interest or fees);
- The loan is predominantly for personal, domestic or household purposes;
- The loan is for the refinance, purchase or improvement of an investment property (Only for loans granted on or after 1 July 2010);
- The debtor is a natural person ordinarily resident in Australia;
- The loan contract was signed on or after 1/11/96. The exception is credit cards (and other continuing credit contracts) where the contract may have been signed at any time (even prior to 1/11/96).
EXAMPLES OF LOANS THAT THE CREDIT ACT WOULD USUALLY APPLY TO ARE:
- Car loans
- Personal loans
- Home loans
- Consumer leases (eg. car leases and rental contracts for goods)
- Credit cards
- Investment property loan (for loans granted on or after 1 July 2010).
EXAMPLES OF LOANS THAT THE CREDIT ACT WOULD NOT APPLY TO ARE:
- Short term loans (under 2 months) with very low interest and fees as a percentage of the loan
- Insurance premiums paid by instalments
- Investment loans for shares
- Business leases
- Business loans
- Pawnbroking loans (although unjust transactions and unconscionable interest and charges provisions of the code apply)
- Staff loans
- Overdrafts that have not been arranged in advance with the financial institution (personal or business)
- Bill facilities
- Charge cards (e.g. when the entire balance must be paid every month)
WHAT IF THE LOAN IS PARTLY FOR PERSONAL PURPOSES AND PARTLY FOR BUSINESS PURPOSES?
The act says that credit is for a personal purpose if:
- More than half the credit (amount borrowed) is intended to be used for a personal purpose; or
- The goods or services obtained with the credit are to be used for personal purposes mostly (that is, more than they are to be used for business purposes).
Therefore a loan for a vehicle which is used five days per week for business purposes and for personal purposes on the weekend only is not likely to be covered, but would be covered if the business only needed the car two days per week and it was driven for personal purposes the rest of the time. Similarly, a loan for $400,000 that was used largely to buy a house but included a small amount of working capital for a small business would be covered by the credit law.
WHAT IF THE BORROWER HAS SIGNED A BUSINESS PURPOSES DECLARATION?
It is not uncommon for credit providers and their agents to ask borrowers to sign a “business/investment purposes declaration” to clarify that the Credit Act does not apply. Such a declaration will be accepted as proof that the credit law does not apply UNLESS the credit provider (or any other relevant person who obtained the declaration from the debtor) knew, or had reason to believe, that the credit was in fact for personal purposes (or largely personal purposes). “Any other relevant person” includes among others car dealers and finance brokers. From 1 July 2010 credit providers are required to make reasonable enquiries about the purpose of the loan.
If you are unsure about whether the consumer credit law applies, or which provisions cover your contract, get Legal Advice.
NEED SOME MORE HELP?
See Fact Sheet: Getting Help for a list of additional resources.
Last Updated: February 2017