Small businesses, franchisees and fuel retailers will soon be able to collectively negotiate with suppliers and processors, franchisor or fuel wholesalers, without ACCC approval.

A first of its kind ACCC class exemption will commence after the period for parliamentary disallowance expires in early 2021.

The class exemption will apply to businesses and independent contractors who form, or are members of, a bargaining group, and who each had an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million in the financial year before the bargaining group was formed.

This will cover more than 98 per cent of Australian businesses.

In addition, all franchisees and fuel retailers governed by either the Franchising Code of Conduct or the Oil Code of Conduct will also be able to collectively negotiate with their franchisor, regardless of their aggregated turnover.

ACCC Commissioner, Stephen Ridgeway, said he hopes the class exemption will help a range of Australian small businesses and franchisees.

“There can be many benefits for businesses negotiating as a group rather than individually, including sharing the time and cost of negotiating contracts, and potentially giving group members more of a say on contract terms and conditions,” says Ridgeway.

“There are often also time and cost savings for the suppliers or franchisor the group is bargaining with. This change will mean the benefits for all parties can be gained through a much simpler and quicker process,” 

Bargaining groups will only have to fill out a simple, one page form, and provide it to the ACCC. Legal protection from competition laws will then commence automatically. There will be no fee for lodging the form.

This form and more information about the class exemption will be available in 2021 when the class exemption becomes available for use.

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