4 Business Regulations and Laws You Need to Know

If you run a company in Australia, you are bound by a number of business regulations and laws.

Set by both the state and territory governments, as well as the Australian government, these regulations and laws are specifically designed to maintain fair competition.

They also aim to provide adequate protection for all parties involved in business, as well as to provide integrity within the marketplace.

Should you already run a business in Australia, or if you are planning on starting a business soon, it is important you understand your regulatory obligations.

For this reason, to give you a good starting point, in this article, we will outline four of the main business regulations and laws you need to know about.

These are Australian intellectual property laws, Australian business and environment laws, Australian export and import laws, and financial reports. So, let’s begin.

Australian Intellectual Property laws

Intellectual Property Laws in Australia were established to foster innovation while protecting and giving a competitive advantage to businesses that create original IPs.

They cover intellectual property (IP) as well as additional intangible assets which are associated with the act of doing business.

This includes the following:  


Patent protection

An Australian patent gives a business the legal protection and right to stop other businesses from manufacturing and otherwise using or selling your invention anywhere in the country.

Administered by IP Australia, they may also be used to license a third party to produce your invention on agreed terms.

It is always worth seeking the advice of a fully qualified professional before applying for a patent. 

Trademark protection

There is a long-established legal system in place in Australia for trademark protection, which protects the intellectual property of both individuals and businesses.

Registered trademarks offer national, legal protection that stops third parties from using your brand. It can also even be used as a marketing tool to ensure the integrity and authenticity of a product.

Registering a domain name

If you have a website that ends in ‘.au’, or are planning to launch one, you will need to register your domain name with the .au Domain Administration (auDA).

Usually, this is done automatically in the registration process when you secure the name via a company like Crazy Domains or GoDaddy.

Design protection

If you have created a design, Australia has a statutory framework in place for the registration of them.

Applications must be filed with the Designs Office of IP Australia. They will evaluate whether your design meets the relevant legislative requirements.

When filing a design application, you can do so for one design or multiple designs.



Copyright protection

Australia has a strict copyright law that has been developed to provide protection and further encouragement to businesses that create new materials. 

Under their legislative framework, in Australia, all material is automatically protected by copyright, so no specific registration is needed.

Australian business and environment laws

Both the federal government, as well as the state and territory governments have strict laws in place that offer protection to consumers, the community, and the environment. 

These laws also promote competition and fair trading and govern how companies must operate with their customers, suppliers, and other businesses.

Should a conflict arise, they also provide a point of reference to the rights of businesses and business owners.



Competition laws

Regulated by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), Australia has in place a national statutory framework that facilitates fair and honest trading between businesses and customers.

As well as federal legislation, there are also state and territory laws in place for consumer protection. While an office for fair trading can be found in each state or territory to provide businesses with advice on their obligations and rights.

These laws exist to prevent cartel conduct from happening. To find out more about them, contact a law firm like LY Lawyers

Consumer laws

Australian Consumer Law outlines regulations that have been put in place to prevent issues arising from unfair contract terms, product safety, consumer rights guarantee, lay-by agreements and penalties, and unsolicited consumer agreements.

Product liability regulation

As well as competition laws, the ACCC also enforces a national statutory framework that monitors product information and safety standards.

These standards have been put in place to make sure that products that are potentially dangerous or harmful or otherwise made to code, are not sold in Australia.

Throughout the country, fair trading offices that are run by the state and territory governments, operate predominantly to help consumers.

Environmental legislation

Between them, the federal government, as well as state, territory, and local governments, collectively administer legislation to protect the environment.

Typically, the Australian Government focuses on the process involved in the evaluation and approval of cultural and environmental matters that concern the whole nation.

By contrast, states and territories tend to focus more on businesses when it comes to environmental protection legislation.

Privacy laws

Regulated by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australia has strict privacy laws that relate to what businesses can and can’t do with people’s personal information, and how they can communicate with them.

Under this legislation, there are very clear obligations when it comes to handling sensitive information like medical records.

Additionally, Australian states and territories have privacy laws of their own, which may affect the way business is conducted within the workplace of each of their jurisdictions.


Australian export and import laws

The Australian federal government has several certified policies that aim to provide Australian businesses with a helping hand when it comes to international trade.

Australia prides itself on having strong and well-established trade ties with many countries around the world. Its strategic location has also seen the country become a major partner and supplier to several nations within the Asia-Pacific region.

Several regulations exist to protect consumers, domestic industries, and the environment from the threat of potentially dangerous or harmful goods being imported from overseas.

Free trade agreements

Presently, Australia has six Free Trade Agreements in place with other countries around the world, and an additional eight under negotiation.

Overseen by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, these agreements contain legally binding obligations by each country to loosen the restrictions that are otherwise in place to access their markets for products, services, and investment.


Tariffs and duties

All goods imported into Australia are required to be classified.

Under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Australia has obligations with regards to tariffs and tariff quotas, as well as export subsidies and general support for domestic agricultural products.

While declaration procedures take the form of self-assessments that are performed by the importer. All declarations must be provided to the Australian Border Force, who additionally place restrictions on imports.

Import regulations

All businesses in Australia are allowed to import goods from abroad if desired.

However, should you want to do this, there are government regulations you need to be aware of. These include permits, duty taxes, and quarantine and treatments. 

Any imported goods that contravene these requirements can be commandeered by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Financial reporting in Australia

All businesses in Australia are required to give detailed and regular financial reports about their financial activities, in conjunction with current legislative obligations - just as an individual would have to report on (and pay) crypto tax

One reason for this is that Australia aims to create an economy, businesses, and capital marketplaces that are renowned for their integrity and can also lead to heightened investor confidence. 

Across Australia consistent report standards have been put in place. Depending on the size and structure of your business, this may include financial reporting to the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and the Australian Securities Exchange.

Business Activity Statement

If your business is registered for GST, you will need to lodge a business activity statement (BAS) to the ATO. This will help you to more easily report your tax obligations and pay any GST you owe, as well as any PAYG instalments you are required to pay.

The exception to this is if you are a sole trader whose turnover is less than $75,000.

Personalised for each business, the BAS can be lodged electronically, either in person or by mail. Typically, they are lodged on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, depending on when the instalments are due.


Financial reporting requirements

All companies in Australia are obliged to prepare and lodge a full record of their financial reports with ASIC, most typically at the conclusion of the financial year.

These annual financial reports must be audited independently. Although in some circumstances, certain companies may not be required to lodge one.

Australian Stock Exchange reporting requirements

If your company is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, it is bound by both periodic and continuous rules of disclosure.

You will be able to find information on these requirements in their listing rules.


Australian Accounting Standards

The Australian Accounting Standards Board is an independent Australian Government agency that sets certain legislative requirements for businesses.

These apply to several types of financial reports for both the private and public sector.

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