In 2016 an Australian court ruled against Valve to the tune of $2.16 million, finding that Valve insufficiently advertised and refunding Australian Steam customers for purchases on the platform, which ran afoul of the country’s consumer laws.
“This case sets an important precedent that overseas-based companies that sell to Australians must abide by our law. All goods come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold, even if the business is based overseas.” — Rod Sims, ACCC
The initial ruling by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) requires that Valve pay the maximum fine; the court also ordered Valve to set up special refund notices for Aussie customers and school its employees under a special “Australian Law Compliance Program.”
Valve has spent the last year fighting the decision in one way or another to try and avoid the fines. And now, as Gamasutra reports, Valve has applied for “special leave” from the Australian High Court. As in the US, petitioners aren’t necessarily entitled to a hearing before the highest court in the land; members of that body first rule whether or not to hear your final appeal once you’ve made your way through all the other avenues of the legal system. Only if the court decides to hear an appeal can the case move forward. If the appeal is denied, then Valve must comply with the last ruling made.
As GIbiz points out, however, Valve introduced a full refund policy for Steam users after the case began (but before the finding in 2016). The millions it still owes the Aussies? Those funds are still unpaid, and will remain so until this case is finally put to rest; this means that the court will either hear the case, which means more court proceedings, or Valve will finally pay the fines and move forward.
Valve has made considerable efforts to improve their platform these last couple of years, but the idea that they can both do business in a country and not comply with the laws there is absurd.