A discussion paper to explore the scope for reforming Australian contract law 2012
© Commonwealth of Australia 2012
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FOREWORD BY THE AUSTRALIAN ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The Australian Government is committed to improving Australia’s economic performance through innovative and constructive measures across all sectors of the economy. Our end goal is to develop a seamless national economy that is productive and just and provides optimal trade opportunities within Australia and with the rest of the world.
As Australian Attorney-General, I want to ensure that our core legal framework provides the most efficient and effective environment for industry. It must also offer adequate incentives and protections for small business, consumers and employees. As a Government, we continue to progress a range of significant commercial reforms.
Contracts are a fundamental part of our daily lives. Businesses and consumers would be hamstrung without a law of contract to underpin even basic transactions like buying food items, accessing finance and connecting to the Internet. In recent decades our contract law has undergone vital changes through legislative reform and judicial adjustment. However, uneven development of the law can cause confusion and uncertainty.
Australian contract law owes its origins to English common law, which remains an important source of law for many international commercial transactions. Over time our systems have diverged and alternative legal systems—including those of our major trading partners—are assuming greater importance around the world. As nations look for ways to emerge from the global financial crisis, it is timely for Australia to focus on further reducing business costs and improving our international standing.
The purpose of this paper is to start that discussion in the area of contract law. As with many debates, there is likely to be both champions for reform and defenders of the status quo. The European Commission has identified potential gains of €26 billion from harmonising contract law across the 27 member states of the European Union. This must raise questions as to whether Australian contract law is also in need of renovation.
I welcome your comments in response to this discussion paper and encourage you to provide further information or discussion points for consideration by the Government.
The Hon. Nicola Roxon MP
The Australian Attorney-General’s Department invites you to
contribute to Australian law and justice reforms by making
a submission on this discussion paper
This discussion paper on reforming contract law is aimed at all people and organisations who are interested in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of commercial and consumer transactions. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion among business, consumers, legal practitioners, academics and other stakeholders about the successes and shortcomings of Australian...