An interlocutory ruling on a challenge to the admissibility of an expert’s report that was made during the course of final hearing.
The central issue of the case was whether the first respondent, a vocational education and training (VET) provider, engaged in systemic unconscionable conduct in contravention of s 21 of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleged that the VET provider breached s 21 of the ACL by changing its enrollment and withdrawal processes for online vocational courses when it knew, or ought to have known, that the changes would have the effect of significantly reducing protections for consumers. It was alleged that the changes were calculated to increase the college’s profits by increasing the number of consumers enrolled by the college.
In addition to the enrollment process changes, the ACCC alleged that the VET provider unconscionably claimed and/or retained the consequently increased revenue by way of payment from the Commonwealth in respect of VET FEE-HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) debts incurred by consumers. The “claiming and retaining” aspect of the case was not pertinent to consideration of the challenge to the admissibility of the expert report in question.
Claire Schneider (with M Hodge QC) appeared for the Fourth Respondent, instructed by HWL Ebsworth.
The judgment is available here.