Clothing retailer Cotton On has been slapped on Tuesday with a $1 million fine for selling highly combustible fire hazard children's nightwear.
The discount clothing retailer was ordered by Federal Court judge Richard Tracey to pay $400,000 for selling more than 1,000 nightwear that infringed Australian fire safety standards and another $400,000 for selling more than 1,000 unsafe pairs of girls' pyjamas. The sales of these items occurred between September and December 2010.
Mr Tracey further ordered Cotton On, which has more than 900 outlets across Australia, to pay $200,000 for the false and misleading labels on both sets of clothing items which claimed were ''low fire danger."
The order by Judge Tracey stipulates the fines must be settled within 15 months, along with a further $5,000 towards legal costs, following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Children's nightwear sold by Cotton On Kids and a related company, Cotton On, have likewise been ordered by the court to be banned for four years unless it can churn out a written evidence from accredited fire-safety testers. The two companies were likewise directed to establish compliance programmes for three years; otherwise, its directors face jail time for non-compliance to the court orders.
Two years ago, the ACCC chanced upon the falsity of the item's fire hazard danger warnings.
"By supplying around 2500 unsafe children's nightdresses and pyjamas across Australia, Cotton On Kids Pty Ltd and Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd breached the Australian mandatory standard for children's nightwear," Delia Rickard, ACCC deputy chair, said.
"The nightwear was so flammable that they should not have been supplied in Australia at all. To compound this, the highly flammable nightwear was misrepresented by being labelled 'low fire danger'."
Cotton On immediately had the items recalled.
The ACCC called on customers who had bought the items to return them so they may receive a full refund.
The nightwears involved in the court order were the Nicki Short Sleeve White/Petal Spot Nightdress and the Girls Short Sleeve Burst Pyjamas Pea Green.
To contact the editor, e-mail: