Step-change ahead for enforcement and legislative reform in New Zealand

New Zealand businesses saw some substantial changes in 2018, and MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ industry and sector experts are predicting that 2019 will be another year of widened regulatory focus and statutory changes with the potential to affect all businesses.

There are still significant levers of change in play for litigation and dispute resolution says Partner Sean Gollin.

“The Labour-led coalition Government continues to repeal law from the previous government while taking a hard look at certain existing statutory regimes. Regulatory enforcement activity is likely to ramp up with scrutiny widened to address culture, conduct and wellbeing issues following trends in Australia, and substantial pieces of legislation in areas such as employment are coming into force,” says Sean Gollin.

International legislation changes are also influencing New Zealand businesses, including the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which the firm anticipates will influence New Zealand’s own data protection and privacy regulations with the Privacy Act reforms also expected in the first half of 2019.

“There are many challenges and opportunities that come with a period of substantial statutory and regulatory change. New Zealand businesses should be thinking about how they can demonstrate good corporate conduct and their intention to comply through their policies, systems and processes,” says Sean Gollin.

Top seven predictions:

  1. Heightened scrutiny by regulators on culture and conduct in the financial services industry, with other sectors to follow.
  2. Increased enforcement of anti-money laundering and anti-bribery and corruption laws.
  3. Vigorous enforcement by the Commerce Commission of consumer protection legislation, with higher fines and penalties being sought and awarded.
  4. More class action activity following several recent decisions which offer encouragement to potential claimants.
  5. Rigorous enforcement of cross-border regimes such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), and further development of New Zealand’s regulatory response to threats posed to data integrity and privacy.
  6. Greater industrial action resulting from changes to employment law coupled with more emboldened and assertive trade union activity.
  7. Increased focus by local authorities on the use of resource management enforcement tools, and the demand for rapid infrastructure and housing development driving greater litigation around authorisation and consents.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts Litigation Forecast for 2019 is available here.

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