Report No. 199
Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) (Australia) (w.e.f. 1.1.1996):
In 1993, the States and Territories made the Uniform Credit Laws Agreement. The Queensland Parliament passed the template legislation in 1994. Other jurisdictions followed and the uniform system, hereinafter referred to as "UCCC", came into effect across Australia on 1 November 1996. (See Uniform Contracts Terms, Discussion Paper, Jan 2004) (Victoria).
The UCCC in general applies to the provision of credit to a natural person or strata corporation by a credit provider who provides credit in the course of, or incidental to, a business where a charge is made for providing the credit so long as the credit is predominantly for personal, domestic or household purposes. The UCCC also applies to consumer leases, related insurance contracts and related sales contracts (as defined).
Unjust contracts can be re-opened under Section 70. The definition of "unjust" is the same as that in the Contract Review Act, 1980 (NSW), that is, it includes unconscionable, harsh or oppressive contracts.
Section 70 of UCCC referred to above is concerned with procedural and substantive injustice. The list of matters which may be taken into account by the court under Section 70(2) are very similar to those which the court must take into account under Section 9(2) Contract Review Act, 1980 (NSW). Whether or not a term was the subject of negotiation is a matter for the court to consider.
If the court considers that a matter is unjust, it may re-open the transaction that gave rise to the contract. It may then, inter-alia, re-open an account, relieve the debtor from payment to the extent it considers reasonable, set aside wholly or in part or revise or alter an agreement, make an order for payment of an amount it thinks is justly due to the party under the contract as per Section 71. Action is only available to the individual debtor.
Under section 72, the court may review unconscionable interest, fees or other charges.