Comparative Consumer Law Reform and Economic Integration
CONSUMER LAW AND POLICY IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, J. Malbon and L. Nottage, eds, Federation Press, Australia, 2013
45 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2015 Last revised: 25 Oct 2016
Date Written: 2013
This paper outlines the emergence of consumer law amidst economic integration. It focuses on developments in the European Union and (towards the other end of the spectrum) New Zealand, but also briefly across the broader Asia-Pacific region (including the United States and Japan). The Australian Consumer Law reforms introduced in 2010 prompted reform debates in New Zealand culminating in the Consumer Law Reform Bill 2011, which was eventually divided into six separate Amendment Acts passed on 10 December 2013. New Zealand's provisions regulating unfair contract terms did not come into force until 17 March 2015, and cannot be invoked directly by consumers (as in Australia and the EU) but only by the regulator. The regulation of consumer credit in New Zealand also underwent a major review in recent years and resulted in the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Act 2014, which was passed into law on 6 June 2014. In addition there have been recent legislative reforms aimed at improving consumer protection in New Zealand financial markets. These reforms have been progressed on a staged basis, with a package of reforms: the Financial Advisors Act 2008; Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008; Financial Markets Authority Act 2011; and Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013. Significant differences remain between New Zealand and Australian consumer law reforms despite the two countries being close trading partners.
The EU's landscape has also evolved, moving towards ever more integration. The Consumer Rights Directive is now live in Member States, a draft for a reform of the Payment Services Directive is being discussed alongside a new Regulation on Multilateral Interchange Fees (to cap the amount of fees that can be charged on card payments), but the proposed opt-in Common European Sales Law was shelved while agreement is being sought on the scope of the instrument. Many new consumer law initiatives have also come to the fore recently, with much activity continuing to look at how to remove barriers to e-commerce alongside other internal market inhibitors.
Keywords: Consumer law, comparative law, European law, New Zealand law, contract law, product safety law
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation