Consumer law reform
The consumer law reform revised consumer law to help consumers transact with confidence and to support honest business practices. The law changes were included in the Consumer Law Reform Bill. This page explains the process and background for these changes.
The Government has revised consumer laws to help consumers transact with confidence and to support honest business practices. The law changes were included in the Consumer Law Reform Bill. This page explains the process and background for these changes.
On this page:
- The law changes and when they took effect
- The law review process
- Laws reviewed and objectives on the consumer law reform
- Amendment Acts
- New government regulations developed following the Consumer Law Reform Bill
- Progress of the Consumer Law Reform Bill through Parliament
- Cabinet decisions
- Consumer law reform papers and discussion documents
See Changes to consumer laws for information for businesses and consumers about the specific consumer law changes and when they took effect.
The process of law review began with discussions and discussion documents in 2009 and 2010 on parts of the law and potential changes. Changes were then agreed by Cabinet and considered in an omnibus Bill, the Consumer Law Reform Bill. The legislative part of the review ended in December 2013 when the Consumer Law Reform Bill went through the final legislative processes and received Royal Assent.
The following laws were reviewed and changes were included in the Consumer Law Reform Bill (the Bill):
- Consumer Guarantees Act 1993
- Fair Trading Act 1986
- Weights and Measures Act 1987
- Carriage of Goods Act 1979
- Sale of Goods Act 1908
- Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 2004
- Auctioneers Act 1928
- Door to Door Sales Act 1967
- Layby Sales Act 1971
- Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1975.
Each of these laws was reviewed, looking at:
- its history, original purpose, and ongoing relevance
- any gaps in the law and the overall effectiveness of the law, particularly its enforceability.
Findings and proposals from the initial review were reported in public discussion documents for feedback prior to development of the Bill.
The objectives of the reform were to revise and update consumer law so that it:
- is principles-based
- enables consumers to transact with confidence
- protects suppliers and consumers from inappropriate market conduct
- is easily accessible to those who are affected by consumer law
- is aligned with Australian Consumer Law, where appropriate, in accordance with the Government's agenda of a single economic market with Australia (SEM).
After the third reading of the Consumer Law Reform Bill in Parliament and Royal Assent, the Bill was split into the following main Acts:
- Fair Trading Amendment Act 2013
- Consumer Guarantees Amendment Act 2013
- Weights and Measures Amendment Act 2013
- Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Amendment Act 2013
- Carriage of Goods Amendment Act 2013
- Auctioneers Act 2013.
The following Acts were repealed and content included in either the new Auctioneers Act or in the Fair Trading Act:
- Door to Door Sales Act 1967
- Layby Sales Act 1971
- Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1975
- Auctioneers Act 1928.
The amendment Acts required the development of some new government regulations. These are:
- Auctioneers Regulations 2014
- Fair Trading (Uninvited Direct Sales: Financial Products) Regulations 2014
- Weights and Measures Amendment Regulations 2014
- Fair Trading Act (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2014.
Papers related to the regulations:
- Discussion paper: New Auctioneers Act – Proposed Regulations on Auctioneers' Fees and Registration Information
- Regulatory Impact Statement: Financial products exemption from uninvited direct sales requirements.
This section lists the major legislative milestones of the Consumer Law Reform Bill as it progressed through Parliament, and links to key documents published at these milestones.
The most recent events are listed first.
See Parliament Brief: The legislative process for information about the stages involved in passing legislation.
Royal Assent: 17 December 2013
After Royal Assent, the Bill was replaced by a series of amendment Acts.
Third reading: 10 December 2013
See Consumer Law Reform Bill passes third reading – press release from the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Hon Craig Foss.
Committee of the whole House: Tuesday 3 December 2013
Supplementary Order Papers
Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) were developed to adjust some of the drafting in the Bill.
- Some sections were renumbered or their wording clarified.
- The commencement time for unfair contract terms was changed to 15 months (instead of 6 months) after Royal Assent to allow extra time for businesses to review and amend their standard form contracts.
- A correction was made to the electricity indemnity provisions.
- A regulation-making power about uninvited direct sales was created.
- Consumer Law Reform Bill and Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs)
- Progress updating consumer law for the 21st century – press release from the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Hon Craig Foss, about a Supplementary Order Paper.
Second reading of the Bill: 12 December 2012
See Second Reading of the Consumer Law Reform Bill – speech by then Minister of Consumer Affairs, Simon Bridges.
Commerce Committee report back to Parliament: 2 October 2012
The Commerce Committee (the Committee) reported back to Parliament on the first draft of the Consumer Law Reform Bill. The Committee recommended several amendments to the Bill. The Committee considered around 90 submissions on the Bill, including around 60 oral submissions.
- Commerce Committee Report
- Minister welcomes select committee report on consumer law reform – press release by then Minister of Consumer Affairs, Hon Simon Bridges
- Q & A for Consumer Law Reform Bill [79KB PDF, 13 pages] – as reported back by the Select Committee.
See Consumer Law Reform Bill on the New Zealand Parliament website to view all submissions on the Bill during consideration by the Commerce Committee in 2012 and advice provided by the then Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
First reading of the Bill: 9 February 2012
Parliament referred the Bill to the Commerce Committee.
See Consumer Law Reform Bill: First Reading, the first reading speech by then Minister of Consumer Affairs, Hon Chris Tremain.
The Bill's explanatory note includes a general policy statement that discusses the background to the Bill and some of the main changes. See:
- Explanatory note on first draft of Consumer Law Reform Bill
- Consumer Law Reform Bill – on the Parliament website.
Cabinet made decisions on what to include in the Bill prior to drafting the Bill. Some additional decisions were made by Cabinet during Select Committee consideration in 2012. The relevant Cabinet papers and record of decisions are provided below.
Prior to the drafting of the Consumer Law Reform Bill, there were several public discussion documents. Submissions on these discussion documents informed the drafting of the Bill.
See Submissions made on discussion documents below.
Discussion documents and submissions prior to the development of the Consumer Law Reform Bill
Submissions made on discussion documents
Consumer Law Reform discussion papers (June 2010)
Unfair Contract Terms (September 2010)
This document provides further analysis of the proposition that the Fair Trading Act 1986 could be amended to include unfair contract terms provisions.
Referencing Good Faith in a Fair Trading Act Purpose Clause (October 2010)
This paper provides further analysis on the appropriateness of including a reference to good faith in the purpose statement of the Fair Trading Act.
Unconscionability (October 2010)
This paper provides further information on the application of the unconscionable conduct provisions in the Australian Trade Practices Act 1974. The paper aims to inform the decision as to whether or not equivalent provisions should be added to the Fair Trading Act 1986 in New Zealand.
Layby Sales (October 2010)
This document provides further analysis of the proposal that the provisions of the Layby Sales Act 1971 could be incorporated into the Fair Trading Act 1986.
Electricity and the Consumer Guarantees Act (October 2010)
This document provides further analysis of the application of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 to electricity.
Substantiation (November 2010)
This paper provides further analysis on the possible inclusion of a general prohibition on unsubstantiated claims in the Fair Trading Act 1986.
Auctions, Auctioneers and the Consumer Guarantees Act (November 2010)
This document provides further analysis on the regulatory regime for auctioneers and auctions.
Unsolicited goods and services
This document provides further analysis on ongoing regulation of unsolicited goods and services and its proposed form.