In the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe famously sang that ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’. And while many of us – males and females alike – have a fascination with jewellery, operating a watch and jewellery retailer involves more than sparkles. Similarly to all stores, these retailers also have to think carefully about their legal considerations. If you are a watch and jewellery retailer, this article details the most important legal considerations for your business.

The essential legal regulations and issues of which you need to be aware include:

  • Consumer Law Obligations;
  • Legislation concerning Trading Hours; and
  • The Jewellery Association of Australia’s (JAA) Code of Conduct.

Consumer Law

As a retailer, you have obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). In general, the ACL requires that your business meets all of the consumer guarantees, provides any appropriate remedies and does not engage in prohibited behaviour.

All consumer guarantees are mandatory. Watch and jewellery retailers should particularly note that the goods they supply must be of acceptable quality. Typically, this means that suppliers must ensure that their products are not defective, durable and meet all relevant product safety standards. However, as public knowledge of jewellery and watches can be limited, watch and jewellery retailers must be careful when making any statements or representations about the value, standard, quality or grade of an item. Of course, it must be accurate. Most importantly, these retailers need to know that the consumer understands the representation.

For example, if your store values jewellery, it is possibly good policy to explain your valuation to a consumer. It may help prevent disputes through sheer misunderstanding. It is also a good idea to verify with your customers how they intend to use the product to be sure that an item is fit for its intended purpose. For example, if an ocean diver asks for a watch to wear while diving, you need to be sure that any watch that you sell them can do this.

The ACL forbids suppliers from engaging in Misleading and Deceptive Conduct, including in advertising. Any savings you advertise must be genuine. Similarly, any advertisements concerning a liquidation sale or closing down sale must be accurate. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) can always request that your business substantiates any claim it has made.

Trading Hours

All state and territory governments regulate retail trading hours. They do this for a variety of reasons, including to assist small retailers and to protect more vulnerable employees. The effect of regulation on your business depends on where you trade and the size of your business.

The Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory have deregulated their trading hours. However, all states have their individual scheme. For example, in Victoria retail trading hours are regulated under the Shop Trading Reform Act 1996 (Vic). Trading is restricted on Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Good Friday and part of Anzac Day. However, if your store qualifies as exempt, you may be able to trade even on these days. Exempt stores are either a particular type of shop (for example, a chemist) or a shop that meets certain size criteria.

As noted above, every state has its own regulations. Depending on where you trade, you need to know what legislation, if any, applies to your store. Visit the website for your relevant state government authority. Alternatively, contact them.

JAA Code of Conduct

The Jewellery Association of Australia has produced a Code of Conduct for all watch and jewellery retailers. The Code is not law and therefore not mandatory. However, it represents best practice in the industry. The JAA also drafted it with the needs of watch and jewellery retailers in mind. As such, adhering to the Code is potentially an excellent way to avoid preventable consumer disputes and other commercial difficulties. The Code is available online, for free.

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For further information, the ACCC and JAA websites are an excellent resource. If you need tailored information, speak with a qualified lawyer. Contact LegalVision’s qualified lawyers to assist you. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Carole Hemingway

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