2nd March, 2018 · Service & Repairs Policy

Access to Service and Repair Information

Issue

The New Car Retailing Industry – A market study by the ACCC, December 2017 recommended to the government that a mandatory scheme be introduced for car manufacturers to provide access to the same technical information which they make available to their authorised dealers and preferred repairer networks including environmental, safety and security-related information. Independent repairers compete with dealers for business and the Government regulation should ensure access to information is not free of charge but granted on commercially fair and reasonable terms. Government regulation, if implemented, should also protect commercially sensitive, environmental, safety and security-related information and secure protocols developed for access, release, vetting end users and tracing the use of that information.

Background

The issue of access to technical information by independent repairers has been a contentious for many years and in December 2014 the Agreement on Access to Service and Repair Information (the Agreement) was signed by key industry associations. It placed voluntary obligations on car manufacturers to share with independent repairers, on commercially fair and reasonable terms, the same information they provide to dealers. Despite the Agreement and significant investment by car manufacturers in providing access to technical information independent repairers continued to assert that there were barriers when trying to access technical information.

The ACCC received a number of complaints about the effectiveness of the Agreement and voluntary codes and in its market study examined the effect of the Agreement in facilitating access to technical information by independent repairers. While there were competing claims about access to information the ACCC concluded the Agreement was ineffective and recommended to the Government that a mandatory scheme be introduced for car manufacturers to share with independent repairers the same technical information made available to dealers and preferred repairer networks, on commercially fair and reasonable terms.

The ACCC did not specify the type of regulation to be used or indicate which government department be responsible for the administration of the scheme. The ACCC recognised the need for the safeguards to be built into the mandatory scheme for the secure release of environmental, safety and security-related technical information. The scheme should also set out a process for vetting end users accessing that information and tracing the use of that information.

Key Points

  • ACCC recommended to Government that a mandatory scheme be introduced for car manufacturers to provide independent repairers with access to the same technical information which they make available to dealers and preferred repairer networks.
  • A mandatory scheme should contain security protocols for the protection and release of sensitive environmental, safety and security-related information. This should include vetting of end users and tracing the use of that information.
  • Access to information should not be free but be available on commercially fair and reasonable terms.

Status

The Government is considering the ACCC recommendations and needs to be mindful of the manufacturers’ legal right to limit the sharing of data relating to vehicle environmental, safety and security systems.