The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017: What is it? What does it do? And how will it impact your organisation?

31 August 2017

In recent years, New Zealand has taken steps to ‘clean up’ old legislation on the statute books. The purpose of this is to make old legislation more accessible by modernising archaic language, and ensuring consistency. This has been made possible through the legislation Act 2012 which provides for the revision of old law.

The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 (Act) is the first revision Act of its kind, and will come into effect from 1 September 2017.  It has two key functions.  The first is to simplify the language of old statutes to more modern words and expressions so that it is easier to understand.  The second is to clarify how Parliament intended for the law to be applied and change any language that is not consistent.  It does not make radical changes to the law, but rather to refine the existing law.

The revisions made in the Act impact 11 statutes relating to the following areas:

  • Contracts;

  • The sale of goods;

  • Electronic transactions;

  • The carriage of goods; and

  • Various other commercial matters including mercantile agents and bills of lading.


Some minor changes in wording on how the law is interpreted may also have an impact on certain practices. For example, the wording of the law regarding a warehouse owner selling goods by public auction has been clarified to state that the sale may be at any time after the expiry of 90 days, rather than at the expiry of 90 days.

Additionally, contracts, settlements and other arrangements made prior to 1 September 2017 will continue to be governed by the old statutes. The Act will have an impact as far as the modernisation of wording goes, but not in the existing principles of the law.

The introduction of the Act marks a good time for organisations to review any documents that will be used from 1 September 2017, such as contract templates, terms and conditions, terms of trade or any other document that refers to the old statutes. These will need to be amended so that they refer to the up-to-date and relevant provisions in the Act. It is also a good opportunity to review these documents in general, to ensure they remain fit for purpose, and align with current business practice.

For further advice on the Act, or for assistance to review standard form documents, please feel free to get in touch.


Chris Steenstra is a Senior Associate in the Commercial Corporate Team at Norris Ward McKinnon. You can contact Chris at [email protected]

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Jess Collett is a Solicitor in the Commercial Corporate Team at Norris Ward McKinnon. You can contact Jess at [email protected]


Aaron Young is a Law Clerk in the Commercial Corporate Team at Norris Ward McKinnon. You can contact Aaron at [email protected]