New Toolkit aids better regulation in New Zealand


An important new weapon in the ongoing battle to achieve effective regulation in New Zealand is now freely available online, thanks to Law Foundation support.

The New Zealand Law Foundation Regulatory Reform Toolkit provides anyone interested in quality regulation with easily accessible, free online tools to help analyse regulatory problems, along with user-friendly access to detailed research about regulation.

The toolkit, formally launched in July 2013 by Finance Minister Hon Bill English, is the major output of a three year, $1.85 million study of the challenges around regulation in New Zealand.

The multi-disciplinary study team was led by Professor Susy Frankel of Victoria University Law Faculty, and included experts from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and law firm Chapman Tripp.

Mr English says the Toolkit is a smart response to the problem of getting regulation right for New Zealand.

“There’s no template for good regulation – each situation is different, and the answers require drawing on the best of local and overseas experience.

“The Regulatory Reform Toolkit brings that knowledge together in an accessible format. It’s an innovative approach, and I’m sure it will be a valuable resource for the Government to draw on in reforming regulation.

“I congratulate the Law Foundation and the Project Team for bringing this Toolkit together, and I encourage everyone with an interest in good regulation to use it,” he says.

Law Foundation Chair Dr Andrew Butler says the Foundation started the project in 2010 because the subject was so important, yet under-researched in New Zealand.

“Regulation affects the cost and quality of most of the goods and services we use every day,” he says. “The cost of regulatory failure can be spectacular – the leaky homes debacle is just one example of that.

“As an open, globally connected and trade-dependent society, New Zealanders expect first-world regulatory standards, yet our small size makes it difficult to sustain complex regulatory mechanisms used in other developed economies.

“The Regulatory Reform Project has been supported by Government ministers, and the project team has worked with officials from Treasury and other agencies throughout, because of the important contribution it makes to the regulatory reform agenda,” he says.

The launch of the toolkit followed a special conference at Victoria in early 2013 where the project team’s initial outputs were reviewed. The team’s second essay collection Recalibrating Behaviour: Smarter Regulation in a Global World was launched at the conference. The essays were grouped under four broad themes: Regulation and Global Connectedness; the Public Voice and Consumer Behaviour; the Careful Art of Reducing Uncertain Outcomes; and the Institutions of the Regulatory Regime.

The first essay collection Learning from the Past: Adapting for the Future: Regulatory Reform in New Zealand was published in March 2013. The book draws out specific learnings from New Zealand’s regulatory experience. Issues covered include competition law, tax avoidance, property rights, intellectual property rights, consumer law, consumer credit regulation, regulatory failure in the building industry, trans-Tasman integration, and public participation in regulatory processes and trade agreements.

In 2014 a final publication, analysing key themes of the project, was launched by long-standing leading commentator on the New Zealand legal system, Professor John Burrows, whose distinguished career includes, most recently, terms as a Law Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Government’s Constitutional Advisory Panel.

The book “Framing the Commons – Cross Cutting Issues in Regulation” (Editors Professor Susy Frankel and Dr John Yeablsey) is the third and final essay collection of the Foundation’s three year study of the challenges around regulation in New Zealand.

Professor Burrows stressed the importance of the book not just to regulators, but to broader policy-making. “Many of the messages in the book are relevant not only to regulation, but to law making in general. Much of the book should be staple diet for policy advisers,” he said, concluding: “The book deserves a wide audience among those who make, reform and develop our law.”

These themes, which have been critical to building the highly practical toolkit, can be found in the online toolkit along with all other research papers.

  • The Regulatory Reform Toolkit can be found at
  • The collections Learning from the Past: Adapting for the Future: Regulatory Reform in New Zealand and Recalibrating Behaviour: Smarter Regulation in a Global World are published by Lexis Nexis.
  • Framing the Commons – Cross Cutting Issues in Regulation is published by Victoria University Press

The Law Foundation provided funding of $1.85 million for this project.

NZ Law Foundation Regulatory Reform project

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