2018 Litigation Forecast - Consumer law Summary

In our 2017 forecast, we anticipated a forceful approach to consumer and credit law enforcement by the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC), further prosecutions and test cases, and higher fines and penalties.

Consistent with that prediction, 2017 saw an $800,000 fine against Bike Barn, then the first Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA) fine over $1 million against Reckitt Benckiser for misleading packaging of Nurofen, rigorous Credit Contract and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA) enforcement and the NZCC’s latest “case stated” proceeding against Harmoney on the application of the CCCFA to peer-to-peer-lending.

We expect this strong enforcement trend to continue in 2018, as the NZCC continues to pursue the largest programme for consumer and credit enforcement in years.

Forceful approach to consumer and credit law enforcement by the Commerce Commission is set to continue in 2018.

The announcement in July 2017 of its priority areas provides useful insight into the NZCC’s programme for 2018 – retail telecommunications, responsible lending and credence claims will be in the spotlight. These all have a strong consumer protection focus.  As part of our 2017 Regulator Series, the NZCC provided some further insight, noting it will prioritise:

  • matters with a public safety element;
  • pricing claims; and
  • requests to traders for information to substantiate claims.

Further test cases for unsubstantiated representations and unfair contract terms, following the NZCC’s industry reviews conducted for energy retail, telco retail, and gym contracts, can also be expected.

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