New Zealand Law Society - Retailer sentenced for unsafe children’s nightwear

Retailer sentenced for unsafe children’s nightwear

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Online and store retailer NZSALE has been fined $74,000 in the North Shore District Court after pleading guilty to four charges brought by the Commerce Commission for selling nightwear that failed to meet the applicable safety standard.

Under the Fair Trading Act (FTA), all children’s nightwear (and limited daywear) must be made of fabric that is less likely to burn and must have a fire hazard information label to reduce the risk of children being injured if their nightwear catches fire.

The Commission reports that, in sentencing, Judge Cunningham said, "It is important that the purpose of the FTA is to protect and promote consumer welfare as well as fair competition through fair trading practices. These products are the subject of regulation to protect children from the risk of fire which can result in severe disfiguring injuries or worse."

Three types of children’s pyjamas and a sleep sack sold by NZSALE did not meet the necessary product safety requirements for nightwear because the material was too flammable to be used, did not carry the right fire hazard label, or had no fire hazard labelling at all.

All products were sold via the NZSALE website and were recalled in New Zealand in December 2015.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings says the NZSALE sentencing is the latest in a string of product safety cases taken by the Commerce Commission to strengthen compliance in this area.

“It is important that retailers understand and comply with safety standards - especially when babies and young children are concerned. Flammable material should not be used for nightwear because of the risk of children being injured if it was to catch fire. Fire hazard labelling requirements are also a necessary safety measure.”

“Parents should check the labelling of clothing so they are aware of the safety and suitability of children’s nightwear when using heaters or fires,” she says.

A product recall in Australia of the same four products following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sparked the Commission investigation. In New Zealand, 73 units which failed to comply with the relevant safety standard were sold to 57 different consumers.

The four non-compliant items are:

  • Ruffle Butts & Rugged Butts, orange Superhero Fitted Pyjamas – which had such high fire danger they were incapable of complying with the Standard, regardless of labelling.
  • NohiSleep Sack Pink Stripe Owl – which did not have fire hazard labelling as required.
  • Joules Junior Sleepwear Set – displayed some fire hazard labelling but not the mandatory warning required.
  • Absorba, Boys Bodysuit in Grey – which did not have fire hazard labelling as required.

There have been five product safety prosecutions by the Commission this year, including NZSALE. Most recently Goodwear Ltd pleaded guilty to 16 charges related to fire warning and other labelling on children’s clothing. Goodwear Ltd is scheduled to appear for sentence on 23 November.