ACCC launches action against shopping centre owner

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched legal proceedings against the owner of a Melbourne shopping centre, alleging the landlord engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct during negotiations with tenants.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched legal proceedings against the owner of a Melbourne shopping centre, alleging the landlord engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct during negotiations with tenants.

The action has been taken against Dukemaster Pty Ltd and its general manager, Patricia Wong. Dukemaster is the landlord of a retail shopping centre called the Paramount Retail Centre located in Melbourne.

The ACCC alleges Dukemaster contravened the Trade Practices Act by taking unfair advantage of its stronger bargaining position, exerting undue pressure and using unfair tactics against certain tenants in connection with their leases.

It also alleges that Dukemaster told some tenants that the rent rates it proposed were very reasonable and below the market value when in fact the company had no such belief and no reasonable basis for making these representations.

The ACCC alleges Wong was “knowingly concerned in and party to Dukemaster’s alleged contraventions of the act”.

The regulator’s proceeding involves an action on behalf of the tenants who the watchdog says were misled. It will be seeking compensation for loss and damage alleging suffered as a result of Dukemaster’s and Wong’s conduct.

As well as seeking declarations, injunctions, compliance and disclosure orders, the ACCC wants an order that Dukemaster and Wong pay the ACCC’s costs of the proceeding.

The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s “fast track list” and is listed for a scheduling conference in Melbourne on 12 November.

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