Reading time: 3 minutes

We’ve all seen advertisements on television with huge slogans blaring across our screens, followed by an avalanche of crucial information contained in the fine print. So, what must advertisers include in the fine print and how can they ensure they comply with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL)?

What are the Legal Principles?

Any advertisement must contain information which, when looked at as a whole is accurate. The advertiser must draw to the consumer’s attention any potentially misleading slogans with prominent fine print.

Fine print cannot be used to disregard what your business has stated in the rest of the advertisement. The court will first consider what is the advertisement’s dominant message, and determine whether or not it is misleading, without qualification. Next, they will examine whether or not the fine print contains a statement that corrects the misleading impression the dominant slogan gives consumers. Finally, they will assess whether this qualification is sufficiently visible so that the ordinary consumer would take notice.

Up Close: the ACCC Takes On TPG

The court recently looked at whether a slogan is misleading or deceptive in Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) v TPG Internet Pty Ltd (2013) 250 CLR 640. 

TPG had advertised an internet package bundle by stating that consumers could get an ‘unlimited ADSL+2 for $29.99 per month’. The fine print then stated that this was in addition to a telephone service for an additional $30 per month along with other fees and charges. Because of the way the advertisement was structured, consumers would be left with the impression that the whole package was for $29.99 per month, with no other charges.

What Did the Court Decide?

The High Court ultimately determined that in this case, whether TPG’s ads were misleading or deceptive depended on whether their advertisements would attract customers on the basis of the ad’s dominant message. Importantly, it is the dominant message as perceived and understood by TPG’s customers.

The High Court upheld the primary judge’s original pecuniary penalty of $2 million because TPG had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

So, How Can My Business Comply?

If you are using fine print in advertising to provide more information to your customers, you need to ensure that the text:

  • Isn’t too small to read;
  • Is easy to find; and
  • Is not obscured by pictures or colours.

If you are using a television advertisement, the fine print voiceover cannot be too quick or too quiet, and the fine print cannot be shown only for a second.

So, Key Takeaways? 

You need to consider whether the advertisement’s dominant slogan is possibly misleading or not. If so, the fine print correcting that impression will need to appear more prominently. What type of product are you advertising? Will your consumers do their own research on the terms and conditions you are offering?

The method of your advertisement will also affect what kind of things to include in the fine print. For example, with an advertisement in a newspaper, the consumer has more time to process the ad then they do when listening to an ad on the radio.

Questions? Get in touch on 1300 544 755

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

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

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

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

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Bianca-Reynolds
Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards