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New Zealand


A peculiarity of New Zealand law is the absence of exposure for personal injury liability. There is a near-complete prohibition on actions for personal injury - section 317 Injury Prevention Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001. Some unusual risks fall outside that prohibition, e.g. mental injury not accompanied by personal injury (seeing one’s spouse injured, for example), and exemplary damages. 


New Zealand has a broad-ranging act governing liability for defective consumer goods. The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 implies statutory guarantees into contracts for the supply of goods to consumers. The guarantees cover:

  • Title
  • Acceptable quality
  • Fitness for purpose made known expressly or by implication to the supplier
  • Compliance with description and sample
  • Reasonable price
  • Availability of repairs and spare parts for a reasonable period after supply.

The Fair Trading Act of 1986 prohibits, both in a civil and criminal context, misleading and deceptive “conduct that is liable to mislead the public as tothe nature, manufacturing process, characteristics, suitability for a purpose, or quantity of goods.” The conduct must be “in trade” to distinguish it from private or domestic transactions.

The Fair Trading Act also empowers Parliament to impose product safety standards or lists of unsafe goods which it is an offence to contravene. Such standards have been imposed in relation to a small number of consumer items, primarily to protect children. 

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