Reform of Aus­tralian Con­tract Law

On 22 March 2012 the Com­mon­wealth Attor­ney-Gen­er­al, Nico­la Rox­on, released a dis­cus­sion paper which could lead to wide-rang­ing review and reform of con­tract law in Australia.

The dis­cus­sion paper was pre­pared by the Com­mon­wealth Attor­ney-Gen­er­al’s Depart­ment. In its sum­ma­ry of the paper, the Depart­ment refers to sev­er­al objec­tives it says may be achieved through reform of con­tract law in Aus­tralia. The objec­tives iden­ti­fied include sim­pli­fy­ing and improv­ing the acces­si­bil­i­ty and cer­tain­ty of con­tract law, sup­port­ing inno­va­tion, meet­ing the needs of small and medi­um-sized busi­ness­es, har­mon­is­ing State and Ter­ri­to­ry laws and facil­i­tat­ing cross-bor­der trade and invest­ments and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the dig­i­tal economy.

The com­ments made by Ms Rox­on regard­ing the review show a clear focus on the poten­tial to sim­pli­fy con­tract law which she described as a red-tape bur­den” and a com­plex mix­ture of com­mon law, leg­is­la­tion, inter­na­tion­al agree­ments and the con­tent of con­tracts them­selves.”

To assist it in decid­ing whether fur­ther action should be tak­en, the Depart­ment has called for sub­mis­sions from any inter­est­ed par­ties regard­ing the prob­lems expe­ri­enced by those involved in con­tract­ing with oth­er busi­ness­es or indi­vid­u­als and the poten­tial for reforms to address those prob­lems. The dead­line for sub­mis­sions to be made is Fri­day 20 July 2012.

A copy of the dis­cus­sion paper can be viewed on the web­site of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s Depart­ment.