Two importers have been fined a total of $118,000 on toy safety charges, and a District Court Judge has said that
“substantially higher penalties” are justified in such cases.
SDL Trading Limited was fined $64,000 in the Auckland District Court. It was SDL’s second such prosecution, after being
fined $81,000 in March 2018.
Earlier, Greenstar Holdings Limited was fined $54,000 in the Manukau District Court.
Greenstar Holdings Limited
In his sentencing notes Judge Blackie in the Manukau District Court said Greenstar’s offending was “highly careless” and
that sentences being imposed for other similar conduct “are not sending the message to importers, distributors and
He said “[i]t is the very young children at risk. They do not have the ability to assess a hazard or potential hazard as
does an older person. A number of traders … have been profiting from the distribution of these goods.”
The Commission has now completed 24 product safety prosecutions (including for products other than toys) since the start
of 2017, with fines totalling more than $1.5 million.
Judge Blackie said “[w]ith the interests of the young and vulnerable in mind, I am of the view that substantially higher
penalties could be justified” for breaches of the product safety standard for children’s toys.
In imposing the fine of $54,000 he noted the need for consistency with other District Court decisions. See the
Background section below for recent similar cases.
Greenstar had earlier pleaded guilty to four representative charges relating to the supply of 217 units of four
different toy animal sets
between November 2017 and February 2019.
The toys either contained squeakers which came out during testing, and/or the toys were small enough to pass through a testing template
Three of the toy sets were labelled with symbols
indicating the toy was not for children aged 0-3 years, or wording such as “Warning: Choking Hazard: Small parts. Not
for children under 3 years”.
Judge Blackie said the age suitability indications were “clearly inadequate and misleading. The market for the toys,
known to almost every New Zealander who has raised a family, is … play things for infants in the bath.”
He said Greenstar “did not carry out any checks of its own to ensure compliance. It simply relied on a warning label”
and the “warning must be considered as dangerously misleading and inadequate when the risk factor was so high."
SDL Trading Limited
SDL pleaded guilty to one representative charge under the Fair Trading Act 1986, relating to a fire engine toy
it supplied to retailers throughout New Zealand, which did not comply with the product safety standard for children’s
SDL supplied a total of 348 of the toys to various retailers between October 2017 and August 2018. It is not known how
many were sold to the public.
During testing various parts came off the toys, including a ladder, side doors, and a firehose, and a small piece of
plastic broke from one of the toys in one of the tests undertaken to assess compliance with applicable legal
In sentencing in the Auckland District Court on 28 August, Judge Paul said the conduct was “highly careless” because SDL
was “on notice and armed with the necessary knowledge of the need to comply with the product safety standard.”
Judge Paul said that despite some compliance efforts “there was not a critical review of the compliance regime
undertaken” and those efforts “were woefully inadequate.”
For the Commission, Chair Anna Rawlings said “this is the second time the Commission has prosecuted SDL Trading for
product safety issues. In March 2018 it was fined $81,000
for supplying an unsafe baby bath toy.
Traders must take steps to learn about product safety standards and use a thorough process to assess the goods they are
selling for compliance with those standards.”
The display box for the fire truck toy carried warnings stating “3+ Ages” and “Not for children under 3 years”. Evidence
provided to the Commission by a psychologist was that the toy was for use by children under 3 years of age for a number
of reasons including its size and weight, its simple design, bright and contrasting colours, and easy recognisability as
an emergency vehicle.
“Both of these cases reiterate that traders cannot avoid their obligations in relation to toys that are for use by
children aged up to and including 36 months of age simply by labelling them as suitable for children aged over 3 years
of age,” said Ms Rawlings.
Recent toy safety prosecutions include:Feel So Good and Espoir fined total of $120,750
June 2020Cinevan and ACQ both fined $81,000,
February 2020First Mart fined $45,000
, July 20192 Boys Trading
(Lotsa Goodies) fined $74,250, June 2019Haiwing fined $20,000
April 2019Joint Future, Ebenezer, Goodview
fined a total of more than $150,000, March 2019
Under the Fair Trading Act, the maximum penalty for a corporate is $600,000 per offence and $200,000 per offence for an
ACC figures show that, between 2014 and 2019, there were at least 39 accident claims relating to choking on toys by
children 36 months and under.
covers toys intended for use by children up to 36 months of age. It aims to reduce the risk of injury or death to young
children by ensuring that toys intended for their use are not so small, or do not have parts so small, that they could
be swallowed or ingested causing choking.
Toy safety videos
The Commission has released a set of three videos designed to help businesses, all of which can be found on the
of the Commission website, along with further guidance for businesses:‘The story of a toy’ shows the potentially devastating impact of supplying an unsafe toy‘Any doubts? Don’t sell’ gives guidance on the mandatory product safety standards, particularly that for toys for
children 36 months and underthe final video demonstrates the three tests that toys undergo to demonstrate they pass the mandatory standard.