Protecting businesses and consumers from unfair commercial practices

Submissions closed: 25 February 2019, 9am

The Government is introducing additional protections for businesses and consumers against unfair commercial practices.

Policy decisions

The Government has decided to introduce additional protections for businesses and consumers against unfair commercial practices.

Read about the policy decisions

Background to the review

Unfair commercial practices can broadly be grouped into two categories:

  • unfair contracts – including contract terms that shift risk from one party to another, make it difficult for a party to terminate a contract, or are otherwise very one-sided
  • unfair conduct outside of the terms of a contract itself – including the use of pressure tactics, deceptive conduct, or the way a contract is enforced.

While there are already a range of protections against unfair commercial practices contained in legislation such as the Fair Trading Act 1986 and the Commerce Act 1986, in December 2018 the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) sought feedback on whether additional protections were needed.

We consulted on options to:

  • introduce a prohibition against unconscionable, oppressive, or unfair conduct
  • extend the existing protections against unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contract terms to also protect businesses.


We received a total of 44 submissions on the matters raised in the discussion paper. These represent the views of a range of businesses, industry organisations, law firms, and other parties. These submissions were carefully considered as part of the policy development process.

Five submissions have not been published at the request of the submitters. Some redactions have been made to other submissions to protect the privacy of individuals.

View the submissions on the unfair commercial practices consultation(external link)

Last updated: 18 April 2019