In September 1989, the Standing Committee of Consumer Affairs Ministers released the draft Credit Bill 1989 for public comment. It is intended to form the basis of uniform legislation through Australia in 1990. That Bill is important for two main reasons. The first is its policy. It incorporates a number of substantial changes to the policy contained in the existing Credit Act. Perhaps the main policy change is the setting of a new standard for disclosure. The Bill requires disclosure of the effective rate of interest and costs in place of the present requirement of disclosure of the annual percentage rate of interest.
The second reason why the Bill is so important is the form in which it is drafted. The Bill is expressed in a much more direct way than the Act it is designed to replace. It is also set out in a new format, incorporating a modified decimal numbering system. The final draft of the Bill will be incorporated as one of the models in the Commission’s forthcoming report ’The Formatting of Legislation’.
This article is not concerned with the policy changes incorporated in the draft legislation; they are a matter for further consideration by SCOCAM, in the light of public consultations on the Bill. Instead, this article is concerned with the drafting changes contained in the Bill. It examines the drafting defects in the Credit Act and the reasons for the changes made in the Bill, and explains how the new format will help in ensuring better communication of the law to its audience.