Chapter 18
Limitation periods


18.26While most submitters supported the need for guidance,507 responses to the question about whether pecuniary penalty statutes should expressly deal with the limitation issue508 fell into two categories.
18.27One group generally favoured the Limitation Act 2010 approach of a six-year primary limitation period.509 Reasons included:
18.28Meredith Connell’s view is that pecuniary penalties are appropriately assimilated into money claims under the Limitation Act 2010, and the firm does not favour varying limitation periods unless this is necessary. The submission noted that “importantly, the new provisions incorporate a ‘late knowledge period’ in a manner that reflects the 2001 amendments to the Commerce Act”.510
18.29The second group of submitters favoured a case-by-case approach, suggesting the six-year primary limitation period is not an appropriate default.511 Reasons included:

18.30The Law Society submitted that the standard Limitation Act provisions are not suitable for most pecuniary penalty cases, and the limitation period for money claims of six years plus a late knowledge extension of three years is too long for most cases. The New Zealand Bar Association submitted that limitation periods should include a long-stop provision that is appropriate to the circumstances, and favoured a maximum longstop of 10 years, with a shorter longstop period of five years for some breaches, such as those under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007.

507Issues Paper, above n 476, at Q42.
508Issues Paper, above n 476, at Q41.
509Submissions of Meredith Connell, Financial Markets Authority, Air New Zealand, Business NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
510Note, however, that the late knowledge period in the Limitation Act runs in parallel with, but is subject to, the six-year primary limitation period, while in the Commerce Act, the late knowledge period is the primary period for those proceedings to which that model applies. This means the limitation period may be shorter under the Commerce Act 1986, depending on when the contravention is reasonably discoverable.
511Submissions of the New Zealand Law Society, Bell Gully, Donald Mathieson QC, New Zealand Bar Association and the Parliamentary Counsel Office (Commercial Team).