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Communtity Law Manual | Disability rights | Decisions about buying things and contracts

Decision making: When others can legally make decisions for you

Decisions about buying things and contracts

Buying things

Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017, s 124(2)

Sometimes when you buy something, you may be able to return it and get a full refund if you can show that you didn’t understand the sale because of your impairment. There’s a special legal rule here, and it depends on whether what you bought was something “necessary’, like food, clothing, rent or medical treatment.

If what you bought was something necessary, then you’ll have to keep it and pay a reasonable price for it, even if your impairment prevents you understanding what you’ve agreed to, and whether or not the seller knew that you didn’t understand the contract.

If, however, what you’ve bought isn’t a “necessary” thing and the seller knew you didn’t understand the sale because of your impairment, you don’t have to keep and pay for what you bought. You can return it to the shop and ask for your money back.

Having an impairment will only affect your legal capacity to enter into legal contracts if you don’t understand what you’re doing. The more complicated the contract and the more money involved, the greater the level of understanding you’ll need to have.

If you have already appointed someone to make decisions for you about your money and property under an enduring power of attorney, or if the Family Court has appointed a property manager for you, then that other person will be able to make decisions for you about legal contracts.

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