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These guidelines summarise the legal powers that NSW Fair Trading has to investigate your business. In some instances, these legal powers can extend beyond what is described here.
Fair Trading investigates people and businesses to check that they are complying with the law and takes action if the law has been breached.
An investigation could start in response to a complaint from a consumer or be part of a compliance operation where many businesses are being investigated at a particular time.
Fair Trading employees called investigators may enter any place at a reasonable time where they believe goods are manufactured, prepared or supplied or where services are supplied or arranged. Investigators have the power to enter a dwelling or other residential premises where manufacturing, business or trade is conducted, or where the occupier consents.
An investigator may make any inspections considered necessary. This can include, but is not limited to, inspecting goods or partially manufactured goods.
An investigator may question any employee or person engaged in the business at the place entered.
An investigator with appropriate written authority may enter and inspect premises, as well as make copies of and take extracts from any document believed to be evidence that the law has been breached.
If Fair Trading reasonably believes a person or organisation can provide information or evidence regarding a breach of the law, an investigator can request this information or evidence from the person by giving them written notice.
It is an offence to hinder or obstruct investigators from doing their duties. It is also an offence not to provide an investigator with reasonable access and assistance so they can effectively undertake an investigation.
Hindering or obstructing a Fair Trading investigation can result in penalties of up to $2,200 or up to six months imprisonment or both.
There are a number of actions the NSW Government can take if you are found to be in breach of the law, including:
|IMPORTANT – consumers and businesses also have the right to compensation through the courts for any loss or damage that occurs due to a business breaking the law.|
Investigators are bound by a code of conduct and must uphold organisational values. Investigators must ensure their decisions and actions are:
Investigators must consider all relevant facts, legislation, policies and procedures before finalising their investigations and making recommendations.
As a NSW government organisation, Fair Trading must follow a code of practice when dealing with businesses. This is based on:
Your business can assist investigators by:
We are committed to providing fair, reasonable and appropriate conduct in all aspects of our investigations. However, if you believe you have been treated unfairly, you can make a complaint about our service. To find out more, visit the ‘Complaints about our services’ page on our website.
More information on Fair Trading's power to investigate businesses is available from www.legislation.nsw.gov.au
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