Support Material for Legal Studies


Option 1: Consumers 25% of course time



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Option 1: Consumers 25% of course time


Principal focus: Through the use of contemporary examples, students investigate the legal rights of consumers and the effectiveness of the law in achieving justice for consumers.
Outcomes

H1. identifies and applies legal concepts and terminology

H3. analyses the operation of domestic and international legal systems

H4. evaluates the effectiveness of the legal system in addressing issues

H5. explains the role of law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict, as well as initiating and responding to change

H6. assesses the nature of the interrelationship between the legal system and society

H7. evaluates the effectiveness of the law in achieving justice

H8. locates, selects, organises, synthesises and analyses legal information from a variety of sources including legislation, cases, media, international instruments and documents

H9. communicates legal information using well-structured and logical arguments

H10. analyses differing perspectives and interpretations of legal information and issues


Themes and challenges to be incorporated throughout the topic:


Assessment: Writing task.



Students learn about:

Students learn to:

Suggested teaching and learning strategies

Themes and challenges

1. Nature of consumer law










  • the developing need for consumer protection

  • the definition of consumer




  • outline the developing need for consumer protection




Define consumer (refer to Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth); Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW)) and develop an overview of the development of consumer law.

Resource: www.austlii.edu.au

Activity: How shopping has changed over time. Complete a web search.

Discuss changes from village market to shopping mall.

Complete table comparing similarities and differences in such things as packaging, opportunities for inspection/testing, range of products etc.

Implications of change: for consumers, the role of the state, laissez-faire, caveat emptor, the level of regulation.

  • laws relating to consumers as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards


  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in regard to consumers

  • objectives of consumer laws




  • outline the objectives of consumer law

Brainstorm life as a consumer 150, 50 and 10 years ago.

Class discussion: Why consumers need protection/objectives of consumer law.






  • contracts – types, elements, terms, exclusion clauses




  • examine the nature, function and regulation of contracts




Define a contract. Identify elements of a legally binding contract.

Examine case law such as Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1893] 1 QB 256.

Differentiate between written, oral and implied contracts. (Most everyday contracts are implied, ie there is no discussion with regard to contractual terms, etc.)

Use case examples such as Balmain New Ferry Co Ltd v Robertson (1906) 4 CLR 379.

Role-play a range of simple consumer contracts.

Discuss the nature of contractual terms – express and implied; conditions and warranties. Use shopping scenarios to develop a practical application of the key terms.



  • issues of compliance and non-compliance








Define the nature and purpose of exclusion clauses; discuss legal protections in their application (Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd [1971] 2 QB 163).

Resources: www.artslaw.com.au; www.business.gov.au




  • standard implied by statutes







Class discussion on how consumers can be protected when they have entered into a contract. Draw on personal experiences.

Consider the role of courts in the development of implied terms, eg merchantable quality.

Examine the role of parliament with respect to implied terms – refer to Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA), Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW) (FTA), and Sale of Goods Act 1923 (NSW).

  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in regard to consumers




  • unjust contracts: common law and statutory protection







Class discussion: The individual v the corporation. To what extent is there an imbalance of power? Link to fairness, and the role of the law in redressing inequality.

Common law and statutory protection. Use case examples such as Commercial Bank of Aust Ltd v Amadio (1983) 151 CLR 447; and legislation such as Contracts Review Act 1980 (NSW) and the TPA.

Students could consider duress, undue influence, unconscionability and difficulties faced by vulnerable groups.


  • laws relating to consumers as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards




  • the role of negligence in consumer protection







Examine the case of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562. Examine the importance of the development of the law of negligence for consumer protection. Refer to contemporary examples – media search.

Consider the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) – initiate a debate or discussion on the balance between an individual’s rights to sue and the need to discourage overzealous litigation.

  • the role of law reform in recognising the rights of consumers




  • regulation of marketing and advertising: statutory protection, non-statutory controls on advertising




Investigate the impact of modern marketing techniques on the consumer, and discuss the increasing need for consumers to be protected via the regulation of marketing and advertising.

Examine statutory protection such as Trade Practices Act. Mention the role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Refer to relevant cases such as Eveready Australia Pty Limited v Gillette Australia Pty Limited [1999] FCA 1824.










Examine non-statutory controls such as Advertising Standards Bureau. Find current examples.

Develop a concept map to summarise; use case examples

Writing task: ‘Assess the effectiveness of the regulation of marketing and advertising in achieving consumer protection.’ Ensure students integrate relevant examples into their response.

Resources: www.accc.gov.au

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

www.austlii.edu.au

www.advertisingstandardsbureau.com.au

  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice for consumers

  • occupational licensing




  • examine the role of occupational licensing in achieving consumer protection




Define occupational licensing. What is its purpose? (Consider different types of regulation.)

Phone book search: Find names of professional/licensing organisations and determine who is regulated. Each student chooses a different one.

Discuss advantages and disadvantages of occupational licensing. Develop a table and refer to specific examples.

Resources: www.icac.nsw.gov.au (corruption risks in occupational licensing).

www.parliament.nsw.gov.au

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Review activities: scaffold writing, trivia game, matching terms.



2. Consumer redress and remedies










  • awareness and self-help

  • state government organisations

  • federal government organisations

  • industry organisations

  • the role of tribunals and courts

  • the role of non-government organisations

  • the role of the media



  • consumer remedies: individual and society


  • recognise the importance of awareness and self help




  • examine the range of different remedies available to consumers


  • evaluate the effectiveness of non-legal and legal measures in achieving justice for consumers




Determine the meaning of redress and remedies.

List and make brief notes on the range of organisations and institutions which may be of assistance to the consumer:

  • state bodies such as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the NSW Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT)

  • federal bodies such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; the Banking and Financial Services and the Telecommunications Ombudsman; the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
  • non-government organisations such as the Australian Consumers Association, (and Choice magazine); the NRMA, Arts Law Centre for Australia


  • the courts at state and federal level.



Consider the order in which each strategy might be employed and distinguish between legal and non-legal responses.
Collect pamphlets and/or brochures and/or fact sheets from internet and media sources to illustrate the activities of a range of organisations whose aim is to assist consumers. (The OFT is a good starting point.)

Through the use of scenarios, illustrate typical consumer problems. Investigate how best to resolve the problem. For example:



Jane wanted a special gift for her father’s birthday. As he was a keen fan, she purchased a supporter’s jersey from the club for $150. Unfortunately, after only a few washes, the colours faded and some of the stitching began to come loose.

Investigate the effectiveness of the remedies and methods of redress that are available to consumers such as Jane who believe their rights have been infringed by either manufacturers or suppliers of goods or services.
Students should include:

  • an outline of the various avenues of redress, both legal and non-legal

  • details about the different remedies available to consumers

  • a judgement as to the effectiveness of both legal and non-legal responses in dealing with the matter.


Review content through the development of a flow chart for consumer action to gain redress.

  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in regard to consumers




  • issues of compliance and non-compliance



  • laws relating to consumers as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards



  • the role of law reform in recognising the rights of consumers





  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice for consumers




  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in regard to consumers




  • laws relating to consumers as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards






Examine the two-tiered nature of consumer protection – redress for the individual and the role of the law in protecting all consumers/society in general. Investigate the function of the ACCC in this area.

Resources: www.moneystuff.net.au

www.treasury.gov.au (a consumer redress study).

www.accc.gov.au




3. Contemporary issues concerning consumers



Issues that must be studied include:










  • credit




  • identify and investigate these contemporary issues involving the protection of consumers and evaluate the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses to these issues

Define credit and explain why it can be problematic for consumers.

Summarise the main provisions of the Credit Act 1984 (NSW) and the Consumer Credit Code.

Consider aspects of credit such as interest rates, security, repossession, terms of credit contract, etc.


  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in regard to consumers









Role-play credit scenario. Introduce difficulties such as the need to reduce payments. Discuss the legal protection and remedies available to the credit consumer.

Discuss the non-legal source of assistance for a credit consumer
(eg credit line)

  • issues of compliance and non-compliance

  • laws relating to consumers as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards







Summarise the legal and non-legal response in table form and evaluate the effectiveness of these responses in protecting credit consumers.

Use music to aid recall – songs such as ‘Money’ by the Beatles.

  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice for consumers

  • product certification







Define product certification (ie a means of demonstrating that a product, process, or service satisfies specified requirements).

Class discussion: Why do we need standards? How have standards changed over time? Refer to specific examples such as food, children’s toys, etc.

Investigate examples of laws which impose product certification/product standards. Outline non-legal responses available. Evaluate the legal and non-legal responses.


Notemaking: On the adequacy of legally imposed product certification and standards.

Refer to international standards as a benchmark for evaluation.

Resources: www.austrade.gov.au

www.buyerbefair.org

www.gbca.org.au



  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice for consumers

  • marketing innovations







Brainstorm range of marketing innovations (new methods of marketing products).

Explain the need for consumer protection in this area.










Investigate examples of the regulation of new methods of marketing and evaluate the legal and non-legal responses. Consider direct marketing regulations as a focus study (amendments to the Fair Trading Act).











Consider the need for further law reform in this area.

Field study: Local shopping centre. Survey of marketing practices including refund policies. How many stores seem to breach laws?




  • technology







Consider the following questions in class discussion. Summarise the main points raised for each:
  • How has technology impacted on consumers? In what way has this generated a need for consumer protection?


  • What have been the legal and non-legal responses to the issues of technology and consumer protection?

  • How adequate have these responses been? Consider the impact of globalisation and the internet.

  • Debate the relevance of caveat emptor in the contemporary global world.

  • What further reform may be needed to meet future challenges posed by technological change?



  • the role of law reform in recognising the rights of consumers






Extension considerations: The extent to which the law should regulate human or business behaviour in order to protect consumers.
Writing task: ‘Assess the responsiveness of legal and non-legal responses in protecting consumers.’





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