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Business & Commercial Law

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Take Care When Signing Things

  • Don't sign anything until you read it.
  • Don't sign anything until you understand it.
  • Don't sign anything unless you agree with it.
  • Don't sign anything with blank spaces or that does not include all the things that are important to you.
  • Keep a copy of everything you sign.
  • If you're told what is written down really means something different from what you think it means, don't automatically believe it.
  • If you're not sure about signing something, take it to a lawyer before you sign it, not after.
  • Keep good records.
  • Written contracts are easier to prove than verbal ones.
  • If someone is trustworthy enough to do a deal with, they should be willing to sign a written agreement.
  • The answer to "Don't you trust me" is always "It is not an issue of trust; it is an issue of doing things properly".

Take Care When Buying Things

  • If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • When you're buying something, don't rely on the advice of a salesman who gets paid only if you buy it.
  • When buying a house, hire your own qualified home inspector.
  • Do lots of research before hiring a contractor.
  • If a deal is valid only if you sign right now, it's almost never a good deal.
  • After you buy most things, you do not have 3 days to change your mind.
  • You're still responsible for paying your lease, even if you move out early.
  • If someone on the other side tells you that you don't need a lawyer, you almost certainly do.
New South Wales 1  business law commercial law complaints signing consumer australian consumer law

Australian Consumer Law

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is a single, national consumer law.

The ACL includes:

  • an unfair contract terms law covering standard form contracts;
  • a law guarsanteeing consumer rights when buying goods and services, which replaces existing laws on conditions and warranties;
  • a national product safety law and enforcement system;
  • a law for unsolicited consumer agreements, which replaces existing State and Territory laws on door-to-door sales and other direct marketing;
  • simple national rules for lay-by agreements; and
  • new penalties, enforcement powers and consumer redress.

There are many publications about the ACL for both business and consumers at:

They have a separate brochure on Professions and Competition.

Fair Trading List of Publications also includes topics on building & renovating, associations, indigenous & youth and property & tenancy.  Some of this is available in video and audio as well.

Guidelines for developing a voluntary industry code of conduct assist industry members to improve business practices and compliance with their legal obligations.

Finance & Debt

For Creditors

Law Handbook S.A.suggest the steps that you should take before initiating legal proceedings to recover payment of a debt.

Once you reach the point where you decide to issue legal proceedings then you should look at NSW web sites for information as the law is different in every State.

For information on dealing with businesses in liquidation see Dealing with businesses in liquidation.

For Debtors

Office of Fair Trading NSW has a lot of information about consumer rights.

If you are in financial difficulty, then it is often helpful to see a financial counsellor. They can help you devise an action strategy to get your finances back on track and advise you on your options if you simply cannot afford to pay all your debts.

You can find a free counselling service near you using the Community Services Directory.

For information on bankruptcy go to Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA). They also have information on some other choices other than bankruptcy for people who cannot pay their debts.

Mortgage Stress Handbook has information for people in trouble with paying their mortgage.

Consumer Credit Legal Centre NSW offer free financial counselling, information, referral and legal advice to individual consumers in NSW on credit, debt and banking.

Commonwealth Financial Counselling (CFC) Directory lists services funded by them.

Small Disputes

Disputes about many consumer claims and disputes, including issues involving residences and leases, are dealt with in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Other disputes involving less than $10,000 are dealt with in the Local Court as Small Claims.

justice has practical guides on Claims and debts of $10 000 or less Small Claims.

For more information on the Tribunal, Suing or being sued and Small Claims go to the Foolkit State Courts page.

DIY Resources

Help Us Improve

Please give us feedback about your experiences using Foolkit and ideas for improvements.


Industry Complaints Resolution Bodies

A number of industries have established independent offices to assist the public to resolve disputes with their members. Examples include banking, insurance and telecommunications.

Their sites often have useful information and links. They explain how they can help to resolve a dispute and what you need to do. Usually there are limits on the size of the dispute that they can resolve.

Industry Complaint Resolution Bodies
NSW Complaint Resolution Bodies

Starting and Running a Business

Federal Government Business Web site is the entry point to the Australian government's resources for business and is very practical. It includes information on starting or buying a franchised business.

Small Business NSW has both online information and programs for business owners. It also has an online Small Business Toolkit (includes videos).

NSW Small Business Website has information on the business life cycle, business regulation, doing business with the NSW Government, Employment, Programs and Grants and Environmental issues.

How-to-guides from the excellent site.

Business Plans & Checklists is an online library which brings together a wide range of business tools. It includes templates, calculators, tips and how to guides.

Other sites to obtain general information on running a business are:

Business Enterprise Centres

Business Enterprise Centres (BECs) are independent, community-based organisations, which provide advice and assistance to existing and potential small business owners and operators. They have offices located in city and country areas throughout Australia.

Environment Protection

Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW).

Information for Business has information on licensing, good environment practices and legislative requirements. 

Intellectual Property - DIY

Good names for your business

Choosing a name that won't get you into trouble with anyone can be difficult. It is not enough just that you registered a business name or domain name. Even a Registered Trademark can be challenged later on.

For discussions about this see Business names, company names and domain names and What is a business name?. Places you check should include these:

Registering a business name lets you register a Business Name online. Alarm bells should ring if you are choosing a name because it is sort of like somebody else's name.

Which Business Structure

Should you set up your business as a sole trader, partnership, trust, company or something else?

Each is quite different from a tax, risk and management point of view.

With tax, you need to consider not only income tax on your profits, but also Capital Gains for when you finally dispose of your business. Some structures expose you to more tax, and others give you the opportunity to spread your income amongst the family.

Risk needs to be considered in the context of what other assets the family owns and whose name they are in and any risks that are involved there. It is not just about the risks in your business and that you may put the family home at risk.

It is important to make the right decision as early as possible. It can be very difficult and expensive to change later on.

You should seek the advice of your solicitor and accountant before deciding on a structure.

Not For Profits & Social Enterprises

Personal Property Securities Register

The new Personal Property Securities (PPS) law is expected to commence shortly. A new national register of personal property securities is part of the reform. The register will help you manage credit risk, check for debt owing on goods planned for purchase, and search and register security interests in personal property.

Personal Property Securities Register has information for anyone involved in finance secured by personal property, leases of personal property and supply of goods on a retention of title basis. The law affects buyers as well. Under Information Resources they have videos.


Stay Smart Online The Australian Government's cybersecurity website provides information for Australian internet users on the simple steps they can take to protect their personal and financial information online.

For information about transactions online refer to the topic on Australian Consumer Law on this page.

Small Business Resources

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Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has a lot of information for consumers on topics including:

  • Unfair contract terms
  • Shopping and pricing
  • Product safety
  • Credit, debt and banking
  • Real estate
  • Professional services
  • Motor vehicles
  • Making a complaint

ACCC For Business has a small business Helpline 1300 302 021 and information on a range of topics including:

  • Unfair contract terms
  • Dealing with customers
  • Dealing with other businesses
  • Protecting your business
  • Complying with the consumer laws and industry codes of conduct
  • Professions and competition
Loan Calculators (12)

How Much Can I Borrow? Calculator How Much Can I Borrow? Calculator
This calculator provides an estimate of the maximum you can borrow, taking into account your monthly income and expenditure and current interest rates. This calculator also builds in a buffer for interest rate rises.

Income and Expenditure Worksheet
Use the income and expenditure worksheet to calculate how much you can afford to borrow.

Basic Repayment Calculator
Enter the interest rate, the term of the loan and the amount you are borrowing to get the minimum monthly repayment and the amount of interest paid.

Fixed vs Variable Interest Rate Calculator
This simulator allows you to analyse the choice of a fixed or variable rate by modeling changes in the variable interest rate and comparing the amount repaid during the period and the outstanding loan balance at the end of the period.

Mortgage Broker Checklist If you're planning to use a mortgage broker to help you find the perfect home loan, there is some information you should find out from your broker before you start.

Loan Repayment Calculator - Work out what your minimum weekly, fortnightly or monthly loan repayments would be for any borrowed amount.

Extra Repayments Calculator - Find out how much you can save in interest and shorten your loan term by making additional repayments over and above your current monthly repayment.

Lump Sum Repayments Calculator - Find out how much you can save in interest and shorten your loan term by making a one-off lump sum repayment on top of your current monthly repayment.

Split Loan Calculator - Splitting your home loan into fixed and variable rate portions can provide insurance against future changes in interest rates that we can't predict. Use this tool to calculate your repayments and total interest under different fixed and variable rate scenarios.

Loan Comparison Calculator - Select any two home loans on the market for a direct cost comparison. Determine which is the cheapest in total fees and interest over the life of the loan.

Stamp Duty Calculator - Work out how much stamp duty will be payable on the purchase of your new home.

Principal & Interest Calculator - Work out what portion of each monthly repayment is principal and what portion is interest.

Costs of Buying (2)

Lenders Mortgage Insurance Estimator
In nearly all cases, if you borrow more than 80 per cent of what the lender considers to be the value of the property they will ask you to pay their mortgage insurance. This handy estimator determines how much this is likely to cost you.

Home Cost Estimator
This calculator allows you to estimate the total cost of purchasing a property including all those nasty hidden costs.

Buy or Rent or Invest (4)

Rent vs Buy
This tool allows you to compare your estimated financial position after seven years of renting with your estimated financial position after seven years of home loan repayments.

Buy Then Sell or Sell Then Buy
This estimator provides an indication of the costs you will face depending on the order in which you sell your old home and buy your new one.

Relocation Timeline
This calculator takes your specific moving details and produces a customized timeline. This can then be printed out in the form of a checklist to tick off tasks as they are completed.

Can I Afford An Investment Property?
This tool provides an estimate of how much an investment property will cost. It combines the cash operating revenue and the cash operating expenses with the change in the amount of income tax paid to measure the net change in the investors income due to the investment property.

Banking (12)

Search & Compare Savings Accounts and Term Deposits
Small Business Loans
Small Business Calculator
Compare credit cards - The small business calculator that lets you enter set-up costs and running costs to establish a comprehensive business financial summary.
Debentures comparison page
Compare Homeloans
Transaction Accounts
Personal Loans
Small Business Loans
Business At Call Accounts
Business Credit Cards
Business Term Deposits

Investment (3)

Margin Lending Calculator - Gearing Simulator
Margin Lending Calculator - Stock Lookup
Find and compare brokers

Planners (3)

Savings Calculator

Budget Planner - Try our Budget Planner. Enter your annual income and expenses to assess your financial position.

Statement of financial position. Check your financial position and overall financial capacity.

Retirement / Superannuation (6)

Retirement planner
Could your super and the age pension be enough to give you the income you would like to have when you retire? Ask the FIDO retirement planner to crunch the numbers and show you.

Account-based pension calculatorAccount-based pension calculator
An account-based pension or annuity is one of the products you can buy with your super when you retire. Account based pensions are also known as allocated pensions.

Superannuation calculator
Works out how much super you'll have when you retire and how fees affect your final payout.

Reverse mortgage calculator Reverse mortgage calculator
See how your reverse mortgage debt builds up and may affect how much of your home you still own as time goes by.

Centrelink Rate Estimator

Super vs mortgage calculator

Federal - Tax, Help and Others (16)


Income tax
Individual income tax rates - Shows the percentage of tax payable for each income bracket, for individual Australian taxpayers, for the financial year 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Individual income tax rates for prior years - Shows the percentage of tax payable for each income bracket, for individual Australian taxpayers, for prior financial years.
PAYG withholding
Students and graduates


Income tax
PAYG withholding
Students and graduates
Work related expenses
Other calculators
Other tools

Insurance Guides (5)

Car Insurance Guide (MoneySmart)
Health Insurance Guide (MoneySmart)
Home & Contents Insurance Guide (MoneySmart)
Life Insurance Guide (MoneySmart)
Travel Insurance Guide (MoneySmart)

New South Wales Pages catering for the general public.

Acts, Regulations, Rules & Forms

Are you looking for detailed information like this, or contact details for any of the bodies mentioned on this page. If so, then start on our Business Law for Lawyers page.

If it isn't there, then start on our Finding Detailed Legal Information page.

Please read our warning on that page "Be careful using these resources".

The Law is not always as straightforward as it appears. We have not included any information about when and how to use that information or any traps. We assume that the Lawyers will know this.


The Home Building Advocacy Service is a service for consumers who have building disputes. This service is available State wide to residents of NSW for consumerd that have already attempted to resolve their dispute through the Office of Fair Trading NSW. The service is primarily a telephone legal advice service.