Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) has filed a class action in the Federal Court of Australia against Taylors Business Pty Ltd. The lead plaintiff, a Victorian woman, represents herself and a group of Taylors Business customers who pawned goods of value to them, but can no longer access their goods because the business has been shut down. Consumer Action became involved when we had a spike of enquiries to our frontlines from affected customers, many distraught at the prospect of losing their items.
The class action alleges that from 15 November 2022, Taylors Business:
· Was not registered with the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) to carry on business as a pawnbroker;
· Was not subject to the pawnbroker exemption to the operation of National Consumer Credit Protection Act and the National Credit Code, found in section 6(9) of the National Credit Code;
· Engaged in unlicensed credit activity because it undertook credit activities without holding a valid Australian Credit Licence;
· Charged prohibited interest at an equivalent rate of 480% per annum, being 432% higher than the highest permitted rate of 48% specified in the National Credit Code and the Consumer Credit (Victoria) Act 1995;
· Entered into pawnbroking contracts that contained an unfair contract term in the nature of the interest charged.
· Engaged in unconscionable conduct and entered into unjust transactions.
Taylors Business operates a pawnbroking business in Delahey, Victoria. On or about July 2023, Taylors Business shut its pawnbroking shop without notice. After several complaints from Taylors Business’s customers, Consumer Action investigated, and it revealed that Taylors Business was deregistered as a pawnbroker by the Business Licensing Authority on 15 November 2022. Taylors Business continued to enter into new pawnbroking contracts with its customers after this date.
Consumer Action CEO Stephanie Tonkin said the class action is being undertaken to help distressed people who cannot access better and safer forms of credit.
“We also want to shine a light on this industry and laws that permit businesses to take items of significant value to people – most of whom are in financial trouble – and slug them with extraordinary charges on top. Charging interest rates above 48% per annum is illegal under the Credit Laws, and you have to query why pawnbroking businesses are exempted.”
“Our clients often surrender goods that are really meaningful to them, to access small sums of money worth much less than the goods and are paying eye-boggling sums of interest on top.
“The fact is that people are turning to these pawnbroking services out of desperation, and it’s taking them into even deeper financial troubles, and underlying all of this is the cost-of-living crisis we’re all experiencing.”
The Applicant is seeking, amongst other things, orders that Taylors Business return any pawned goods that it continues to hold, despite shutting its store in July 2023 and compensation. The Applicant is also seeking urgent orders to protect the pawned goods.
Register for updates about the class action:
If you have entered into a pawnbroking contract with Taylors Business after 15 November 2022 and would like to provide your contact details so we can provide updates about the matter, then please complete this webform: https://au.bot.joseflegal.com/1kaKO9eO/taylors-business-class-action-sign-up-for-updates
Alternatively, please contact Consumer Action on 1800 466 477 or the dedicated Koorie Helpline for First Nations People on 1800 574 457
Media Contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, firstname.lastname@example.org