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Consumer law for manufacturers and importers

Whether it’s the quality or the safety of the goods you manufacture or import, how they’re measured, or your conduct in making or importing them, there are standards you have to meet.

Regardless of your industry or situation, as a manufacturer or importer you must comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act, as well as product safety regulations and the Weights and Measures Act.

Consumer Guarantees Act

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) sets out a number of guarantees when goods or services are supplied to consumers. This includes guarantees that goods:

  • Are of acceptable quality
  • Are fit for particular purpose and
  • Comply with description and sample

Where goods are first sold to a consumer in New Zealand there is a guarantee that the manufacturer will ensure that repair facilities and spare parts are available for a reasonable time after sale.

Where goods or services do not meet these guarantees, consumers have various options available to them including being able to claim compensation from you.

You can’t opt out of the CGA unless you’re providing a service or selling goods to another business and your right to opt out is set out in writing in an agreement or is clearly displayed in all your places of business. . If you otherwise try to opt out, you risk breaching the Fair Trading Act (see below) court action being taken and if prosecuted, receiving a fine up to $200,000.

Goods and services not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act

The CGA does not apply to:

  • Goods normally acquired for business use, eg commercial goods such as farming machinery.
  • Goods or services used in a manufacturing process.
  • Goods or services supplied by a charity for the benefit of the person to whom they are supplied.
  • Goods sold by auction or by competitive tender (these goods will be covered by the CGA from 17 June 2014).

This is a guide only. Only the courts can make an authoritative ruling on breaches of the Consumer Guarantees Act. The guide is not intended to be definitive, and should not be used instead of legal advice.

The Fair Trading Act

The Fair Trading Act aims to promote fair competition in the marketplace and ensure that consumers can always be confident of the accuracy of the information they receive about goods.

In general, it prohibits people in trade from misleading or deceptive conduct. You do not have to intend to mislead or deceive; it is whether your actions did or could mislead or deceive that is important.

However, you’re not obliged by the Act to give information to consumers in all circumstances. You just have to ensure important information is not withheld and the information you do give to consumers is accurate.

The Fair Trading Act is enforced by the Commerce Commission (external link) , but individual consumers and other businesses can take legal action against you under the Act.

The Fair Trading Act applies to:

  • All aspects of the promotion and sale of goods and services (from advertising and pricing to sales techniques and financing).
  • Certain activities whether or not the parties are ‘in trade’ (such as employment advertising and pyramid selling).

Businesses cannot contract out of their obligations under the Act.

Product safety regulations

If you import goods into the country, it is your responsibility to make sure they are safe under the Consumer Guarantees Act. However, there are also six specific Product Safety Standards enforced by the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act.

They are for the following.

If the products do not meet the required safety standards, they won’t be allowed into the country. The best way to prove your goods meet Product Safety Standards is to get a certificate of compliance from an accredited testing laboratory.

Find out more with Standards New Zealand (external link) .

Unsafe goods notices

Importing, supplying or advertising goods declared by the Minister of Consumer Affairs to be unsafe is an offence under the Fair Trading Act.

Find out if an item of goods is currently banned under an Unsafe Goods Notice with Consumer Protection, MBIE (external link) .

This is a guide only. Only the courts can make an authoritative ruling on breaches of the Fair Trading Act. The guide is not intended to be definitive, and should not be used instead of legal advice.

Weights and Measures Act

The Weights and Measures Act applies to:

  • All goods sold by weight or measure.
  • All weighing and measuring equipment.
  • Services relating to weighing and measuring equipment.

The Act regulates the accurate weighing and measuring of goods.

Find out more about Importing and exporting and get advice and mentoring for exporters.

Find out more about the Weights and Measures Act with Trading Standards (external link)

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