Commerce Commission releases report on unfair contract terms in the telco sector

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Author: Laura Littlewood

​​​​​​​​​​The Commerce Co​mmission has today released a report which details the findings of its first industry review of “unfair contract terms”. The report also highlights the industries that the Commerce Commission will prioritise for its next reviews.

The report is summarised below and a copy is available here​.

Example of terms the Commission found to be “unfair”

The report covered a review of specific standard form consumer contracts across the New Zealand telecommunications sector. It identifies a range of terms that the Commission considered to be potentially unfair. It focuses in particular on terms that:

  • limit or exclude the liability of the company,
  • allow the company to unilaterally vary the contract,
  • make the customer responsible for unauthorised charges, or
  • allow the company to avoid liability for consequential loss.

Which industry will the Commerce Commission review next?

The Commerce Commission has indicated that it will continue to undertake industry reviews with a particular focus placed on industries that have proven problematic overseas, or industries in respect of which complaints have been received in the past.

The Commerce Commission states in this report that it has now prioritised a review of standard form consumer contracts in the following sectors:

  • electricity retail,
  • credit, or
  • gym.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) undertook a similar industry review process following the enactment of national “unfair contract terms” legislation in Australia in 2010. The ACCC’s reviews also covered the following industries, which may be indicative of the Commission’s approach:

  • airline,
  • vehicle rental, or​
  • online traders.

If you need any further information on the matters covered in this update, please contact your usual Bell Gully adviser.​​


This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.

For more information
  • Dean Oppenhuis

    Partner Wellington
  • Sophie East

    Partner Auckland
  • Laura Littlewood

    Partner Auckland
Related areas of expertise
  • Commercial
  • Consumer law
  • Information, communications and technology