Reading time: 4 minutes

Industry codes or guidelines may apply to Australian businesses operating within certain industries. If you are a business owner, industry codes of conduct are intended to protect dealings between you and your customers. Whether or not a code is enforceable depends on whether it is voluntary or mandatory. A voluntary code is self-regulated, while a mandatory code is an enforceable compulsory standard that protects consumers who purchase from your business.

Industries Subject to an Industry Code of Practice

Many industries have specific codes of practice that apply to particular stakeholders and operators. Industry codes of practice apply to the following industries:

Industry Code of Conduct
Franchising Franchise Code of Conduct
Horticulture Horticulture Code of Conduct
Food & Grocery Food and Grocery Code of Conduct
Wheat Port Wheat Port Code of Conduct
Oil Oil Code of Conduct
Unit Pricing Unit Pricing Code


For example, there is a code for accommodation and food services in Australia. It applies to hotels, serviced apartments and other short-term accommodation. It also applies to cafes, restaurants, pubs/bars, and other food businesses. The code for this industry is the mandatory Food Standards Code, and is enforced by State agencies. It sets out the requirements for good safety, covering issues such as:

  • Labelling and information requirements;
  • Substances in food (or added to food);
  • Contaminants and residues;
  • Types of food that require pre-market clearance; and
  • Processing requirements for meat in Australia.

Purpose of an Industry Code of Practice

Industry codes are enforced to protect consumers such as taking into account scenarios that might affect food safety or misleading conduct.

For example, recently the Food Standards Code adopted a standard relating to claims made about nutrition and health. The standard limits claims about infant formula products or alcohol volume. Further, the standard prevents claims on food products that refer to prevention, diagnosis of a disease or other disorder. Nutrition claims also cannot imply ‘slimming effects’. Therefore, the Code protects consumers who may be misled by labels.

Enforcement of Codes

If the industry code relating to your business requires you to keep certain information or documents, then the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) can request that information or documentation, and you will need to supply it within the specified time period.

The ACCC can choose businesses at random for a check, or it can target a business that may have previously had complaints or a record of non-compliance with a code.

Some examples of documentation you would need to provide are:

After you provide the documentation, the ACCC will review and communicate the outcome of the check with you. If there are any issues, you can seek to resolve them with the ACCC otherwise actions to enforce compliance may occur.

Protecting Your Business

Be proactive. Don’t just follow basic requirements of the mandatory codes as you may miss an important change to the codes that apply to you. You can:

  • Use the code as a guideline for dealing properly with customers and ensure customers know how you will be dealing with them;
  • Establish your own Code of Practice, which sets you apart from competition and allows you to work with a particular policy, which streamlines procedures and customer service;
  • Keep on top of updates with the Codes of Practice, as you may have your say with industry representatives and the community;
  • Stay in contact with industry associations, as they usually provide updates and opinions from key contacts in your industry.


If you’re unsure whether you’re complying with an industry code, or you have questions about how to best follow your industry code, call LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


Australia’s Global Talent Visa: How to Attract Top Talent

Thursday 7 October | 11:00 - 11:45am

Understand how to navigate Australia’s complex migration system to attract top overseas talent with our free webinar.
Register Now

5 Essential Contracts for your Online Business

Thursday 14 October | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn which key contracts will best protect your online business with our free webinar.
Register Now

Key Considerations When Buying a Business

Thursday 11 November | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn which questions to ask when buying a business to avoid legal and operational pitfalls, so you can hit the ground running. Join our free webinar.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. From just $119 per week, get all your contracts sorted, trade marks registered and questions answered by experienced business lawyers.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer