Restrictions and penalties - introduction agents

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As an introduction agent, it is your responsibility to understand your legal obligations under Part 5.1 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012. Some of these are set out in the Penalties table on this page.

You must also understand your responsibilities under all laws that set rules for your business; such as the Australian Consumer Law, which applies to all Australian businesses.

Restrictions

It is illegal to:

  • run your introduction agency from a brothel or escort agency
  • act as an introduction agent when ineligible or disqualified
  • make false or misleading representations, such as exaggerating the size of the client database, or promising that a particular person or someone with special characteristics is available for introduction.

Your agency staff must not pretend to be clients available for introduction.

Penalties

You may be penalised for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012. Some offences and their penalties are listed in the table below on this page.

We investigate and deal with breaches in a variety of ways. For more information, view our Regulatory approach and compliance policy section.

We can take businesses to court if there is evidence of recurring breaches. If a court rules that the breaches have occurred, it can impose monetary penalties.

The value of a penalty unit is $161.19 for financial year 2018-19. This amount will change at the start of each financial year. For more information, visit the Indexation of fees and penalties page on the Department of Treasury and Finance website.

Section of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012

Obligation

Maximum court-imposed penalty for breaching your obligation

84(1)

You must not operate an introduction agency from any premises that is occupied by a sex work service provider being used as a brothel or escort agency.

240 penalty units

92(1)&(2)

You must not operate as an introduction agent if you are disqualified or prohibited from acting as an introduction agent.

120 penalty units for an individual.

600 penalty units for a corporation.

95(3)

If you are disqualified or prohibited from operating as an introduction agent but have been granted permission to operate as an introduction agent, you must comply with any conditions imposed by the Business Licensing Authority.

120 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment for an individual.

600 penalty units for a corporation.

97

You must ensure introduction agreements:

  • are in writing and readily legible
  • begin with the words 'Important Notice' printed in at least 14 point bold type, and include details of the cooling off period as set out in Schedule 2 printed in at least 12 point type
  •  have names, addresses and telephone numbers of the parties to the agreement
  • have a full description of the service and the terms under which it will be offered
  • include the price of the service and payment method
  • state that the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 prohibits up-front payment of more than 30 per cent of the agreement price before any services are provided, printed in at least 12 point type
  • set out the period of the agreement and the conditions under which refunds will be made
  • are in plain English
  • set out in full all other terms of the agreement
  • are signed by the introduction agent (or their authorised agent) and the person who is to be provided with the introduction service under the agreement.

240 penalty units.

98(1)

Before you provide any part of the introduction service, you must not demand or receive more than 30 per cent of the agreed price under the introduction agreement.

However you may demand and receive more than 30 per cent of the agreed price, before you provide any part of the introduction service, if:

  • the amount that is to be paid under the agreement is $1000 or less, and
  • the total that the consumer entering into the agreement paid, or became liable to pay, to you under any other introduction agreements in the:
    • 30 days before the date the agreement was signed is $1000 or less, and
    • 12 months before the date the agreement was signed is $5000 or less.

240 penalty units

99(4)

You must allow for a cooling-off period of three business days after the consumer has received a copy of the signed agreement.

Where a consumer chooses to terminate the agreement, within the cooling-off period, you are entitled to keep the lower amount of either $250 or 10 per cent of the amount that is to be paid under the agreement.

You must then provide the consumer with a refund for the remainder of the money paid under the agreement within seven days after receiving notice of the termination.

240 penalty units

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