It is unlawful to use physical force, undue harassment or coercion in connection with the supply or possible supply of, or payment for, products or services (including an interest in land).
Undue harassment means unnecessary or excessive contact or communication with a person, to the point where that person feels intimidated, tired or demoralised.
Coercion involves force (actual or threatened) that restricts another person’s choice or freedom to act.
Unlike harassment, there is no requirement for behaviour to be repetitive in order to amount to coercion.
Debt collection agencies
Financial institutions are entitled to attempt to collect debts, but their conduct may be undue harassment or coercion when it involves frequent unwelcome approaches and requests or threats for payment. Laws relating to privacy, harassment and misleading or deceptive conduct apply to all businesses – including debt collection agencies.
The maximum civil pecuniary and criminal penalties for a body corporate are the greater of:
- $10 million, or
- three times the value of the benefit obtained from the offence, or act or omission, by the body corporate and any related bodies corporate if the benefit obtained can be determined by the court, or
- if the court cannot determine the value of the benefit, 10 per cent of the annual turnover of the body corporate.
The maximum penalty for a person is $500,000.