Back to Blog
Consumer law. Misrepresentation. ACCC. Federal Court.

Alleged misrepresentations and unconscionability in the training industry

accc australian consumer law business false or misleading representations misleading and deceptive conduct phoenix activity Nov 24, 2015
The ACCC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against a training college which offered VET FEE-HELP Diploma courses,costing from $18,000 to $21,000 per course.
It is alleged that:
False or misleading representations
  • between January and October 2015, Phoenix Institute of Australia Pty Ltd and Community Training Initiatives Pty Ltd (through the trading name “Mytime Learning“) enrolled more than 9,000 students in 17,000 courses and received in excess of $100 million from the Commonwealth for those enrolments.
  • Phoenix represented to prospective students that:
    • they would receive a free laptop; and
    • the course(s) were free – or free if the student did not earn approximately more than $50,000 per annum.
In fact:
  • the laptop was received on loan; and
  • the course(s) incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt payable to the Commonwealth Government, with repayment commencing once the student earned more than a particular amount ($54,126 in the 2014-2015 income year).
Unconscionable conduct
  • The enrolment process targeted vulnerable groups, such as consumers from low-socioeconomic background and consumers with intellectual disabilities
  • The courses were online, requiring a computer and ability to email, something which was difficult for many of the enrolled students to comply with.

The ACCC is seeking orders cancelling the VET FEE-HELP debts and pecuniary penalties.  The ACCC and the Commonwealth are seeking:

  • declarations,
  • injunctions,
  • orders for the repayment of course fees paid by the Commonwealth to Phoenix
  • corrective notices
  • orders requiring the implementation of a consumer law compliance program
  • costs.

Contact the Shire Legal team if you have any questions.

Book a FREE 15 minute consultation

Stay informed

Sign up to receive regular updates regarding changes to the law, Court decisions and other happenings of interest.