Trading entities need to be aware of legislative environment, which imposes restrictions both on them in their individual capacities and on the entities they represent when promoting goods and services.
Fair Trading Act
The Fair Trading Act aims to ensure that the market for selling is an informed one. The Act prescribes certain behaviour when selling goods and services, and it is being interpreted liberally by the courts.
The main features of the Fair Trading Act are:
- A non-criminal prohibition against conduct and trade which is misleading or deceptive
- Specific criminal offences relating to false representations about goods, services, land and employment
- Civil remedies which include injunctions, damages, corrective advertising at the defendant’s expense, and other orders of the court directing compensation or restitution
The most important section is section 9:
“No person shall in trade, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or that is likely to mislead or deceive.”
The main restrictive trade practices are as follows:
- Price fixing, making it unlawful for two or more competitors to agree or enter an understanding relating to prices, margins or discounts for goods and services
- Resale price maintenance, making it unlawful for a manufacturer or wholesaler to set minimum or actual prices for resold goods
- Exclusionary provisions, making it unlawful for groups of competitors to reach an understanding in order to restrict provision of goods or services to another competitor
- Contracts containing provisions which substantially lessen competition in the market
- Abuse of a dominant market position by restricting entry, hindering competitive conduct or eliminating other businesses from the market
Consumer Guarantees Act
The Consumer Guarantees Act is intended to provide protection at the end of the chain of supply of goods and services. A set of statutory standards called ‘guarantees’ is attached to the goods and services sold to consumers. The Act applies to all goods and services of a type ordinarily acquired for domestic or personal use. The Act does not apply when goods and services are acquired for re-supply in trade, or to be consumed in production or manufacture.
Your business may need to review insurance cover in order to ensure that any increased potential liability arising as a result of the Consumer Guarantees Act is covered appropriately.
Health and Safety in Employment Act
The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which came into force on 1 April 1993, has wide ranging implications for all those involved in the workplace.
Ten fundamental principles provide the foundation:
- Comprehensive coverage for all work situations
- Clearly identified and defined responsibilities
- Promotion of excellence in health and safety performance
- Improved hazard identification and control methods
- Involvement of employees in health and safety issues
- Health and Safety training and education
- A dual approach of incentives and penalties
- Regulation of specific hazardous situations
- Government intervention to reduce compliance costs
- Active promotion of administration of health and safety
Employers must take all necessary practicable steps to ensure safety of employees while they are at work.
The Act sets out these obligations:
- Providing and maintaining a safe working environment
- Providing and maintaining facilities for the safety and health of employees at work
- Ensuring that all plant is designed, arranged and maintained so it is safe for employees
- Ensuring that employees are not exposed to hazards
- Developing procedures for dealing with emergencies which may arise while employees are at work
The very act of employing staff automatically creates legal obligations for both parties.
The Acts relevant here are the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003.
These obligations or ‘rules’ must be in writing. This provides employers and employees the opportunity to understand exactly what the rules are.
An individual employment agreement must contain the following aspects:
- The names of the parties
- Description of position and work to be performed
- An indication of where the employee is to perform the work
- The hours to be worked
- The wages or salary payable
- Holiday and leave provisions
- The employee’s rights in contracting out situations
- The process in the event that the business is sold to a new employer, outlining both what will happen if the position will transfer to the new employer and what will happen if the position will not transfer or the employee chooses not to transfer to the new employer
- A plain language explanation of the services available for the resolution of employment problems, including a reference to the period of 90 days within which a personal grievance must be raised
The Privacy Act sets out 12 information privacy principles in respect of the following identifiable issues:
- Collection of information
- Storage and security of information
- Access by the individual and correction of the information
- Updating and disposal of information
- Use and disclosure of information and unique identifiers
Businesses will need to be wary of sharing information among groups. A breach may arise when information is shared for a purpose unrelated to the purpose for which it was obtained.
Emissions Trading Scheme
The Climate Change Response Act 2002 provides for the implementation, operation and administration of a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in New Zealand that supports and encourages global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the price-based mechanism established by Parliament to:
- Reduce net greenhouse gas emissions below business-as-usual levels
- Comply with our international obligations, including our Kyoto Protocol obligations
It involves all sectors, including agriculture and forestry. MAF administers the scheme for the forestry and agriculture sectors, in conjunction with the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Economic Development.
Businesses involved in activities which come under the umbrella of the ETS need to familiarise themselves with the scheme and their obligations under it.
The Resource Management Act 1991 was enacted to promote sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
The Act provides that any use of environmental resources (air, land or water) which may arise from taking the resource, or discharging into it, requires that a resource consent is in place.