Thermo-nator TM31 – the rise (and fall) of the machines

Notable global intellects Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking both openly cautioned about the risks to humanity posed by AI technologies.

Whilst many people tend to discard these warnings as hysterical hyperbole, the recent Thermomix scandal may serve to silence critics who believe that machines pose no threat of harm to humanity…

…or maybe not. However, the case of ACCC v Thermomix in Australia Pty Ltd (Thermomix) does provide a stern reminder to suppliers, producers and businesses regarding the importance of complying with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

This reminder was provided in the form of a $4.6 million fine imposed on Thermomix for making false and misleading representations, misleading the public and failing to adhere to mandatory reporting provisions.

Thermomix were aware of the potential safety defects in their appliances for around 2 months before they notified consumers and issued a recall.

Justice Murphy found that failure to notify consumers of the serious safety risk posed by one of their products whilst continuing to promote that product contravened the ACL’s misleading conduct provisions.

The Thermomix case also reminds suppliers of the need to comply with the mandatory reporting requirements, which necessitates the reporting of any actual or foreseeable serious injury arising from use of the good to the ACCC within 2 days of becoming aware of the risk or occurrence of injury.

Additionally, the case re-emphasises that the right to a refund or replacement of a faulty product is a right by law and cannot be conditional upon compelling consumers to either sign a non-disclosure agreement or refrain from making negative public comments.

Whilst the debate as to the risk that the rise of the machines pose to humanity will continue to rage on, there is no doubt that suppliers will risk incurring the wrath of the ACCC if they fail to comply with ACL provisions and act swiftly and decisively upon becoming aware of a faulty product.

For more information on ACL compliance or for general business law advice, please contact:

Anthony McFarlane
Principal Lawyer
T 02 6041 0777

Paul Gray
Principal Lawyer
T  03 5225 5231
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*This article was written with the assistance of Alex Gulli, Graduate Lawyer