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The government has confirmed the changes it will make to the Commerce Amendment Bill in order to bring the Commerce Act into line with the Australian Trade Practices Act.
The High Court has issued its ruling on penalties in a case involving price fixing by the companies Caltex, Mobile and Shell, with Caltex receiving the largest penalty as the initiator of the agreement.
The Newsletter reports on a recent New Zealand Commerce Commission ruling on competitive price fixing by three of the four major oil companies in New Zealand.
In what is believed to be the first case of the New Zealand police working with US authorities to prosecute a hacker, a Dunedin man has pleaded guilty to charges of hacking into the computer systems of a US e-commerce operator. Such prosecutions have become easier to bring since new provisions covering computer crime were introduced through an amendment to the Crimes Act.
The New Zealand government has advised that finding a solution to the problem of spam is on its priority list for 2004 and it seems likely that it will enact anti-spam legislation in the near future, despite concerns that doing so will be of no practical benefit given that spammers are mostly located outside New Zealand.
Domain name registrants in the '.co.nz' domain are being warned about letters and faxes from a company trading as Domain Names NZ. The communications are being sent to registrants of '.co.nz' names offering to register the '.net.nz' equivalent of the name. The letters are made out to look like invoices, a breach of the terms and conditions for the registration in the '.nz' domain.
The Cabinet Economic Development Committee recently released its report on proposed legislative changes to the Copyright Act 1994. Among other things, the proposed changes cover the ambit of the reproduction and communication rights, the liability of internet service providers and permitted acts in relation to copyrighted works.
The Electronic Transactions Act was recently passed. It allows certain statutory requirements to be met by electronic means, including the signing and witnessing of signatures, record-keeping and provision of information. In other news, the Ministry of Economic Development has issued a paper assessing the Copyright Act in light of developing technologies, including the Internet.
A recent speech by the minister of energy and resources identified lack of access to land in the conservation estate as the main barrier to growth in the mineral industry. Combined with the streamlining of the Resource Management Act, the minister's three-point plan to improve access will be well received by an industry that is already experiencing something of a mineral rush.
The minister of energy and resources has released a preliminary report on the ministerial review of electricity market performance. In seeking to address concerns about electricity price rises, it presents a number of proposals for consultation. However, the government appears to be looking for immediate, tangible results for households, rather than fundamental changes to market structure and design.
Five electricity generators and retailers brought proceedings against the electricity and gas commissioner, seeking declarations as to the proper interpretation of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 as applied to the supply of electricity as a 'good'. It was held that retailers can be liable for supplying electricity that is below acceptable quality, regardless of the point in the supply chain at which the defect arises.
The Resource Management Act is set to undergo reforms aimed primarily at expediting the assessment and approval of certain developments. A change to the process for designations - a planning mechanism available to companies providing public service-type infrastructure, such as pipelines and transmission networks - could increase delays in authorizing important energy projects.
The Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited decision on consent authorities' consideration of non-renewable energy proposals. A majority reaffirmed the Court of Appeal decision that such authorities must not have regard to the effect of greenhouse gas discharges on climate change when considering granting discharge permits for non-renewable energy proposals.
In 2008 Parliament remodelled Parts 4 and 4A of the Commerce Act, while transitional provisions allowed the Commerce Commission to complete the authorization for the control of supply of natural gas distribution services by Vector and Powerco. This update summarizes some key decisions under the commission's 'building blocks' methodology to determine allowable revenue under the authorization.
The government has released plans for an ambitious emissions trading scheme which will tie all greenhouse gases and all sectors to the international price of carbon in a phased programme starting in January 2008. However, stakeholders have warned that the volatile international price of carbon could damage the economy unless the government acts as a buffer between the international and domestic markets.
The government recently announced a climate change policy package designed to enable New Zealand to meets its emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol. A key feature of the package is the introduction of a carbon charge, which will mainly affect small to medium-sized enterprises. Meanwhile, a major reform of the Resource Management Act is expected over the next few months.