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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jail for contempt over contraceptive sales

Justice Conti of the Federal Court has ordered that Mr David Hughes be imprisoned for contempt for a total period of six months. The orders follow Australian Competition and Consumer Commission action.
Mr Hughes will serve two months immediately and the remaining four months was suspended. The four months would be served if Mr Hughes again breaches the previous orders.
Justice Conti also ordered that Mr Hughes transfer his website to the ACCC. The ACCC will then post a consumer notice on the site, advising consumers of the illegalities under the Trade Practices Act 1974 of the conduct. 
The ACCC brought the contempt proceedings against Mr Hughes alleging he breached orders of the Federal Court made on 18 March 2002.
Then, Justice Allsop held that Mr Hughes had misled or deceived by:
  • not telling consumers that it was illegal to supply or acquire oral contraceptives without a prescription in Australia and the US 
  • failing to tell consumers of significant health risks involved for some people in taking some oral contraceptives 
  • failing to tell consumers that within Australia free medical assistance is available to Australian citizens and permanent residents contemplating using oral contraceptives and 
  • failing to tell consumers that it is significantly cheaper in Australia to get oral contraceptives from a pharmacy.
Justice Allsop made the following orders:
  • that Mr Hughes be restrained from supplying oral contraceptives in Australia without disclosing in any promotional medium, including any internet site, that:
    • it is illegal to supply the specified oral contraceptives to persons in Australia without prescription
    • it is illegal for a person to acquire the specified oral contraceptives without prescription
    • that there are significant health risks in taking some oral contraceptives without obtaining medical advice about the suitability of those medications for use by the particular individual
    • that within Australia free medical assistance, including where appropriate the issuing of a prescription, is available to Australian citizens and permanent residents who are contemplating using oral contraceptives
    • that it is significantly less expensive to obtain oral contraceptives upon prescription from a pharmacy in Australia than it is to buy them from his group, Crowded Planet.
  • that Mr Hughes be restrained from supplying the specified oral contraceptives to persons in the United States of America
  • that Mr Hughes pay the ACCC's costs.
The ACCC alleged that Mr Hughes had set up a new website and offered contraceptives to persons in Australia and the United States in violation of those orders.
The ACCC had assistance from the US Food and Drug Administration which bought contraceptives from a website run by Mr Hughes. Mr Hughes also sold contraceptives to an officer of the ACCC without the warnings being on the website.
The court agreed that Mr Hughes had engaged in the contempt and that it necessarily followed that there had to be a term of incarceration.
Justice Conti took into account Mr Hughes personal circumstances in setting the time for imprisonment.
"The ACCC could not simply allow persons to disregard orders of the court", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "The ACCC does not take any court action lightly and expects respondents to abide by any orders awarded by the courts".

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