Fuji Xerox's attempt to set aside ACCC allegations in court fails

The ACCC is currently suing the company for allegedly entering into unfair contracts with small businesses.

Fuji Xerox's attempt to set aside a lawsuit it is currently facing from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been dismissed by a Federal Court judge.

The ACCC's lawsuit, filed in October, accuses Fuji Xerox of creating an imbalanced relationship with small businesses through the creation of unfair contracts.

The consumer watchdog alleges that Fuji Xerox's standard form business contracts contain a total of 173 unfair contract terms, such as automatic renewal terms, excessive exit fees, and unilateral price increases. 

The terms were found in contracts between Fuji Xerox and its small business customers for the supply of printing goods and services, and technical assistance, and have been used since at least October 2018, the ACCC said back in October.  

"We have received a number of complaints from small businesses alleging that some of the terms in Fuji's contracts have caused them significant financial harm," ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said at the time.  

Since the legal proceedings commenced, Fuji Xerox has been working to set the case aside on the basis the ACCC does not identify a particular contract that is unfair and the watchdog's allegations are all focused on contract templates used by the company.

Justice Angus Stewart dismissed Fuji Xerox's pleadings, however, stating in a judgment that the company has not provided any evidence that the contracts signed by its customers are "peculiar" enough for them to be considered separately from its standard contracts.

"The fact that the counterparty is a small business and that the contract is a standard form contract may be sufficient to determine the unfairness of a particular term, there being no other relevant considerations in relation to that counterparty that go to the assessment of unfairness," Stewart said.

With the dismissal, the case will continue to be heard at the Federal Court.

The next hearing date is set for next month.

Fuji Xerox is set to rebrand itself to Fujifilm Business Innovation at the end of this month. The company made the decision last year as it wanted to focus on its existing businesses and expand into new business areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud, and the Internet of Things.

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