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Contract and commercial law revision bill introduced

23 May 2016

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson QC has introduced the Contract and Commercial Law Bill, to consolidate 11 contract and commercial Acts into a single piece of legislation with a modern style and format.

The bill is the first revision Bill on the government's triennial statute revision programme - the first major statute law revision exercise by any government since 1908.

Revision bills are prepared under subpart 3 of Part 2 of the Legislation Act 2012. They may revise the whole or part of one of more Acts and omit redundant or spent provisions as well as making changes in language, format and punctuation and any necessary repeals.

A revision bill must not change the effect of the law, and the Contract and Commercial Law Bill contains no new policy or substantive law changes. Certification statements to this effect are required by section 33 of the Legislation Act.

Mr Finlayson says the government sought submissions on an exposure draft of the bill in October 2015. He says parliamentary procedure for enacting revision bills is streamlined under Standing Orders, but select committee scrutiny is retained.

The New Zealand Law Society's submission on the exposure draft noted that although the title suggested the bill would cover all contract and commercial law, that was not the case. It said the Fair Trading Act 1986, Personal Property Securities Act 1999, Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 and Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 applied only in commercial situations or were an integral part of commercial law, along with some other statutes which were not included.

The legislation which the bill re-enacts is:

  • Carriage of Goods Act 1979;
  • Contracts (Privity) Act 1982;
  • Contractual Mistakes Act 1977;
  • Contractual Remedies Act 1979;
  • Electronic Transactions Act 2002;
  • Frustrated Contracts Act 1944;
  • Illegal Contracts Act 1970;
  • Mercantile Law Act 1908 (other than Part 5);
  • Minors' Contracts Act 1969;
  • Sale of Goods Act 1908;
  • Sale of Goods (United Nations Convention) Act 1994.

Last updated on the 23rd May 2016