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With regard to Part 5.1 (starting on page 81) of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 regarding introduction agents, I have the following hypothetical question:

Let us suppose that Alice calls herself a "Relationship Consultant".

  1. Alice does not guarantee that she will provide any match to the client at all.
  2. Alice charges an hourly rate to interview a client on social relationship matters.
  3. Alice may, during the interview, give an opinion on the potential of individual(s) known to the client and/or individual(s) known to Alice with respect to their suitability for a relationship with the client. This may or may not include Alice suggesting a person not known to the client as a match at that time.
  4. Alice may, at some time after the paid interview, provide a match to the client at no additional charge.

By the definition of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, is Alice an Introduction Agent?

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  • If she is doing it just to be helpful, I believe the law you linked to has an exception for a non profit trying to help the community. She can charge but only to break even. Rather than trying to avoid getting a license on a thin technicality she might look into that, or hold dances for a fee or just get a license. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 16:44

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Assuming that (1) Alice markets herself on the terms laid out; (2) that we are talking about social/personal relationships and not professional networking; and (3) that Alice is not carrying out the above activities in any unusual way, she appears to be a Relationship Consultant within the meaning of Part 5.1.

Alice is offering to introduce her client to another person for the purposes of pursuing a personal relationship -- presumably by "giving a name" of that other person -- which makes her an introduction agent under Section 82(A)(1).

Although Alice is not guaranteeing to provide a name, I don't think that changes the analysis. As described, it seems that Alice is offering to provide a name only if she believes she has a good match to provide based on how the interview unfolds. That makes her offer to provide a name conditional, but a making a conditional offer to provide a name is still "offering to provide" a name within the meaning of Section 81. Completion of her screening process is, after all, only one of several conditions of the offer; any Introduction Agent will condition services on the payment of money and the completion of whatever interview process is necessary.

The only way I see the answer changing is if the parties truly have an understanding that Alice is only providing "consulting" services, and that her decision to provide a name is completely gratuitious and 100 percent at her discretion. As long as the customer reasonably expects that Alice will make her best efforts to make an introduction upon the satisfaction of whatever criteria Alice requires, I believe Alice remains an introduction agent.

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    @MontyWild If Alice was not paid her fee, would she still hand out the names for free? Because if she won't, then those names aren't really "free"
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 15:13
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    @MontyWild But it would appear that the names that she would give out are directly linked to the consultation that was booked. So unless she gives out names to people who have not booked her time, then saying she gives names out for free is a thinly veiled attempt at deception.
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 15:30
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    She can charge for her "time," but that only begs the question: her time doing what? If the client reasonably understands that he is paying for her time selecting a name to give him, she's probably an introduction agent.
    – bdb484
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 16:38
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    Another way to look at it: Would Alice's clients be surprised if they learned that she had never given a name to any client? If so, it sounds like they understand the name to be part of the deal.
    – bdb484
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 16:41
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    OK, yes, you're making it much clearer now. The introduction isn't guaranteed, but it is the point of the transaction. Alice is indeed an Introduction Agent.
    – bdb484
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 3:06

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