Should New Zealand prepare for a ‘right to repair’?

Article  \  20 May 2024

The Consumer Guarantees (Right to Repair) Amendment Bill, a private member’s bill introduced by New Zealand’s opposition Green Party, will, if enacted, create a broad 'right to repair' for New Zealand consumers.  The Bill mandates and expands the current guarantee relating to repairs and spare parts that manufacturers give consumers under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 (CGA), but which manufacturers can opt out of by giving notice to consumers.

But because the Bill is not a government bill, its progress in Parliament will depend on the degree to which other political parties support it.

What is the right to repair?

The right to repair has been described as the right of consumers to repair their broken goods, either by themselves or using independent repairers. Environmental and consumer advocacy groups have called on governments worldwide to pass laws improving consumers' ability to repair faulty or damaged goods. The right-to-repair movement believes that such laws will prolong the useful lives of goods and reduce waste in landfills.

Right-to-repair legislation enacted overseas has focused on increasing the repair of specific categories of goods. For example, in 2021, the Australian Government passed legislation to establish a mandatory scheme for sharing motor vehicle service and repair information.[1] In the same year, the UK Government passed legislation requiring manufacturers of household appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and electronic displays to make certain spare parts available to professional repairers for minimum periods after placing the last unit of a model on the market.[2]              

Repair and spare parts guarantee under the CGA

The CGA sets out guarantees that must be met by goods and services supplied in trade to New Zealand consumers. One such guarantee requires manufacturers of goods supplied to New Zealand consumers to make repair facilities and spare parts reasonably available for a reasonable time after the goods are supplied.[3] However, a manufacturer can opt out of this guarantee if reasonable notice is given to consumers when, or before, the goods are supplied.[4]

The guarantees in the CGA covering goods apply to a wide variety of products as the CGA broadly defines "goods" as "personal property of every kind (whether tangible or intangible), other than money and choses in action".[5] The definition expressly includes computer software.

What changes are proposed to the CGA guarantee?

If enacted, the Bill would amend the repair and spare parts guarantee to remove manufacturers' ability to opt out of the guarantee by giving notice.

It would also expand the guarantee given by manufacturers to include providing consumers, upon request, with the "most recent version of any information, spare parts, software, and other tools that the manufacturer uses for diagnosing, maintaining, or repairing the goods."

The Bill does not limit the goods to which the guarantee applies. Accordingly, by virtue of the CGA’s broad definition of "goods", and unlike right-to-repair legislation enacted overseas, the expanded guarantee would apply to an extremely wide range of goods, including intangible or digital goods that do not occupy any space in landfills.

Right to repair vs intellectual property rights

Importantly, the Bill appears to recognise that the information, spare parts, software, and other tools that a manufacturer uses for diagnosing, maintaining, or repairing goods may be proprietary and protected by intellectual property rights, including patents, copyright, registered designs, and trade marks.

The Bill states that the "provision of information, spare parts, software, and other tools under this section does not limit or affect any intellectual property rights in the information, spare parts, software, and other tools."

However, if the Bill is enacted, some manufacturers may be concerned that they are forced to publicly disclose confidential information, know-how, or trade secrets that they use in diagnosing, maintaining, or repairing goods. This is likely to be of concern to many original equipment manufacturers.

Next steps

The Bill will be debated at its first reading in Parliament (MP’s return this week and the Bill is currently at number 10 on the Order Paper). If the Bill passes its first reading, it will be referred to a select committee to consider public submissions on the Bill.

We will continue to monitor its progress and provide updates on any key developments. If at any time you would like to seek clarification on any of the issues addressed by the Bill, please reach out to a member of our team.



[1] Competition and Consumer Amendment (Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme) Act 2021.

[2] The Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations 2021.

[3] CGA, s12.

[4] CGA, s42.

[5] CGA, s2.

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