NZ Commerce Commission publishes new Enforcement Response Guidelines

Published On 04/12/2012 | By Jennifer Cheung | Consumer protection, Enforcement, Reform

On 23 November 2012, the NZ Commerce Commission published its Enforcement Response Guidelines, describing how the NZCC enforces New Zealand’s fair trading, competition and credit contract laws.

Read together with the NZCC’s Model Litigant Policy and Enforcement Criteria, the Guidelines explain what enforcement responses are available to the NZCC, and what factors are taken into account when deciding which response to use.

Key points to note are:

  • Wherever possible, the NZCC prefers to encourage compliance through the use of non-enforcement options, such as advocacy and education;
  • Enforcement options include low-level and high-level responses, which are selected depending on the seriousness of the conduct, extent of the harm, and public interest considerations.  Low-level responses include the issuing of compliance advice letters or warnings to businesses and people to remind them of their obligations.  Higher-level responses include court injunctions to immediately change behaviour, and the commencement of civil or criminal court proceedings.
  • In many cases, the NZCC may be willing to resolve disputes through negotiated settlement, and will consider any proposal that is well-developed, principled and realistic. For instance, typical settlements might require the person or business to cease the unlawful conduct, take some action to remedy the breach, make an admission of liability or pay a penalty set by the court.

NZCC Chair, Dr Mark Berry, announced: “We are committed to increasing transparency and public understanding about the work we do in competitive markets to bring long-term benefits to New Zealanders. Publishing our new guidelines today is an important step in that direction.”

Photo credit: steakpinball / Foter / CC BY

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