Our regulation includes the implementation and enforcement of laws in order to steer the behaviour of regulated entities, with the objective of ensuring a safe and competitive Victorian marketplace, where businesses comply with laws and consumers exercise their rights.
Our regulatory approach is intelligence-led, risk-based and outcome-focused. This is described in further detail below and illustrated in Figure 1.
Our regulatory approach enables us to target the conduct which poses the highest risk to Victorians, while making the best use of our available resources.
A core element of our regulatory approach is the effective use of intelligence to inform decision making about how to manage key compliance risks.
Intelligence gathered in the course of our regulatory operations is supplemented by multiple other sources, including national information shared among Australian Consumer Law (ACL) regulators, information from local councils, state regulators, law enforcement and industry stakeholders, online forums and social media. For example, information provided from auditors reports on estate agents trust accounts alerts us to businesses who may have problematic practices so we can prioritise inspection activity.
In addition to the information sources above, we receive a large number of reports from consumers about business conduct or potential breaches of the law. While we do not pursue all of these individually, we use them as an important source of information that helps us assess risks and take action as appropriate.
Where possible, we aim to identify and treat risks before they lead to actual consumer harm.
Regulatory risks are market behaviours that:
- represent non-compliance with the laws we administer
- present potential or realised consumer harm
- impact our ability to be an effective regulator
- require a regulatory response due to public concern.
We put our effort where it counts and target the areas of greatest risk of consumer harm.
We monitor markets and use evidence to shape a targeted compliance program, focusing on those issues that pose the highest risk to Victorians. Levels of risk are determined according to evidence or likelihood of consumer harm. Risks can take many forms - for example, risks posed by:
- a particular product
- the conduct of an individual business
- a new or emerging business practice, or
- the conduct or business model of an entire industry.
Our use of a range of compliance tools is underpinned by a compliance strategy that ultimately seeks to effect market outcomes. We make decisions on compliance actions in order to achieve outcomes that deter unlawful conduct, and promote future compliance.
We take enforcement action to serve the public interest. We exercise discretion to focus on those actions that can bring beneficial outcomes to all consumers. We do not take action on behalf of individuals to obtain redress. For information on the types of factors considered in establishing public interest, view Our compliance policy.
The nature of the problem and the desired outcome drives the decision on which of our broad range of compliance and enforcement tools to use. Given that our key objective is voluntary compliance, wherever possible, the vast majority of engagements with business will be for the purposes of compliance assistance and education.
However, where the issue is high-risk or requires urgent action to stop the conduct, we may move straight to court action. For systemic issues, a multi-faceted compliance strategy, using several tools in combination, may be used to target an entire industry. For information on our compliance options, view Our compliance policy.