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Friday 31 August 2018

18-252MR ASIC acts against used car financier Rent 2 Own Cars Australia and its directors

ASIC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in Brisbane against Rent 2 Own Cars Australia Pty Ltd (R2O Cars), Timothy Roberts (Mr Roberts) and Paul Green (Mr Green), directors of R2O Cars, for breaching key requirements under the National Credit Code. 

The alleged breaches caused customers of R2O Cars to be charged amounts in excess of the maximums allowed under the credit legislation. 

R2O Cars operates a business providing credit to consumers for the purchase of used cars, through a hire-to-purchase type contract. Under the contract, consumers make weekly repayments to buy the car. These contracts were entered into by a number of franchisees located in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.  Each franchisee or an employee of the franchisee was authorised by R2O Cars to enter into credit contracts with consumers on its behalf. 

ASIC alleges that R2O Cars instructed its franchisees to use “calculators” that miscalculated the weekly repayment amount. This resulted in many instances where R2O Cars charged the consumer amounts in excess of the annual cost rate of 48%, which is the maximum allowed under the credit legislation. R2O Cars also failed to disclose in its contracts, the actual annual percentage rate it charged and had charged consumers in excess of the rate disclosed. The method of calculation of the interest charges payable was also not disclosed. 

ASIC is seeking financial penalties against R2O Cars and declarations of contravention and orders to stop R2O Cars, Mr Roberts and Mr Green from engaging in credit activity for a period the Court sees fit. 

The maximum penalty for a company breaching a key requirement law is $500,000 for each contravention. 

The matter is listed for hearing in the Federal Court in Brisbane on 12 September 2018. 

Background

Consumers who believe they have a dispute with R2O Cars should contact R2O Cars directly at admin@rent2owncars.com.au.

ASIC’s MoneySmart website has information and tools to help consumers buy a car. This includes working out how much you can afford, what you are willing to pay and the different types of car loans.  The MoneySmart website also has information about fees and charges allowable on loans and what to look for in a credit contract, including how interest is calculated and charged.

Editor's note:

On 12 September 2018, the parties appeared before Greenwood J for the first case management hearing. The court ordered (by consent) that the Respondents file a response to ASIC’s concise statement within 28 days. The matter has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.

Editor's note 2:

On 7 November 2018, the respondents filed their response to ASIC’s Concise Statement.

On 17 December 2018, ASIC filed an Interlocutory Application to amend its application. The Federal Court will hear ASIC’s application on 18 February 2019. 

Editor's note 3:

On 18 February 2019, the Federal Court made orders (by consent) that ASIC had leave to file an amended application and concise statement. The Federal Court listed the matter for trial for over five days, commencing 29 July 2019.

Editor's note 4:

This media release has been updated to remove reference to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) as a source of further assistance given Rent 2 Own Cars Australia Pty Ltd is no longer a member of AFCA.

Editor's note 5:

The trial against Rent 2 Own Cars Australia Pty Ltd and its directors was heard on 29 and 30 July and 1 August 2019 before His Honour Justice Greenwood. The Court has reserved its judgement.

Last updated: 15/01/2019 12:00