You may have read headlines like this in the last few weeks… they’re all real-life cases from the Commerce Commissission  

So, Who (or what) is the Commerce Commission?  

The Commerce Commission is an Independent Crown Entity established under the Commerce Act 1986.8. This is a specific kind of organisation, operating within and funded by the Government of New Zealand but operationally independent of it. They are primarily accountable to the Minister of Commerce and Minister of Communications for their performance. They are not subject to direction from the Government in carrying out enforcement and regulatory control activities. This independence requires them to be an impartial promoter and enforcer of the law. The Government may not direct the Commission to have regard to, or give effect to, Government policy unless that is specifically provided for in legislation. 

Their role is to enforce various laws which together promote competition and fair trading, including consumer credit markets, and regulating telecommunications and some national infrastructure. 

If you, or your company ever come under the scrutiny of the Commerce Commission you’ll need to understand how they operate so here is an extract from their webpages: 

Competition and Consumer Investigation Guidelines 

We believe it is important that people who interact with us, in the context of an investigation, know what to expect. 

Our investigation guidelines are written in plain English and set out in an easy-to-follow format so that our investigation processes are accessible to everyone. 

Whether you are a consumer who has made a complaint, a business being investigated, someone helping us with an investigation, or a lawyer representing a business, these guidelines will give you detailed information about our processes and what you can expect. 

The guidelines cover a wide range of topics, such as: 

  • who we are and how we make decisions 
  • how we go about getting evidence and information
  • what compulsory powers we have and how we decide to use them
  • whether and when we will issue media statements or provide public information about an investigation.

A set of five investigation principles that guide how we investigate are outlined in the guidelines. These principles deal with matters like fairness, timeliness, openness and accountability, outlining the standards that we strive to reach in our investigations. 

If you want to know in detail how the Commission goes about its business you can download the full guidelines here.