Retailer Lorna Jane is being taken to Federal Court for its controversial anti-virus activewear, which the brand said could help to stop the spread of COVID-19 while presenting no scientific evidence to back up its questionable claims.
Lorna Jane is being taken to the Federal Court for its anti-virus activewear by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), who says that the brand made a number of false and misleading claims about the activewear, in breach of a number of Australian Consumer Laws.
According to a media release from the ACCC, Lorna Jane’s anti-virus activewear was sprayed with a substance known as ‘LJ Shield,’ purported to stop the spread of COVID-19 and fight viruses and pathogens.
This, however, “was not the case,” according to the ACCC who has launched legal proceedings in the Federal Court against Lorna Jane.
In July 2020, Lorna Jane launched a new campaign for its anti-virus activewear across its social media platforms. The ACCC says that these posts, and the product itself breached a number of Australia’s Consumer Laws by claiming its products could stop the spread of COVID-19, with no scientific evidence to back up their claims.
One post read: “Cure for the Spread of COVID-19? Lorna Jane Thinks So… With Lorna Jane Shield on our garments it meant that we are completely eliminating the possibility of spreading any deadly viruses.”
“LJ Shield – Protecting you with Anti-Virus Activewear,” another post read.
The ACCC says that Lorna Jane’s Director and Chief Creative Officer, Ms Lorna Jane Clarkson made “false and misleading claims about the LJ Shield ‘Anti-virus Activewear’ in a media release and video posted on Lorna Jane’s instagram account.
The controversial and misleading posts were removed from social media in mid July, but the ACCC says that Lorna Jane, until at least November of this year, was selling clothes with garment tags suggesting their ‘LJ Shield’ was capable of eliminating viruses and pathogens.
The ACCC’s Commissioner Sarah Court has said that “it is particularly concerning that allegedly misleading claims that Lorna Jane’s LJ Shield Activewear could eliminate the spread of COVID-19 were made at a time there was fear about a second wave emerging in Australia, especially in Victoria, and all Australians were concerned about being exposed to the virus.”
The ACCC is seeking declarations from Lorna Jane, as well as penalties, injunctions, corrective notices and hopes to impose a new compliance program on the label.
Ms Court said the ACCC was taking Lorna Jane to the Federal Court for making dangerous claims related to a public health issue in a way that “represented there was a scientific or technological basis for these claims… when so such testing had been carried out.”
“We allege that the statements made by Lorna Jane gave the impression that the COVID-19 claims were based on scientific or technological evidence when this was not the case,” Court explained. “We are particularly concerned about this because consumers often trust well-known brands and assume that their marketing claims are backed up by solid evidence.”
The ACCC’s Commissioner continued to explain that “this year, the ACCC prioritised consumer and competition issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to look closely at allegations relating to companies seeking to take advantage of the crisis by engaging in illegal conduct to enhance their commercial position or harm consumers.”
Earlier this year, Lorna Jane was fined just under $40,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration relating to three infringement notices. The TGA says that Lorna Jane failed to register a number of products that should have been listed on the Australian register of therapeutic goods.