A recent High Court judgment offers a timely reminder of the potential penalties under New Zealand's anti-spam legislation. Australian businessman Wayne Mansfield was fined $95,000 for breaches of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, after sending hundreds of thousands of unsolicited emails promoting his business seminars. The emails sparked 53 complaints to the Department of Internal Affairs, and were "unsolicited'' owing to the lack of any business relationship between Mansfield and the complainants. Mansfield – who purchased his email database from a marketing company – then continued to send messages to recipients who had previously unsubscribed, in further breach of the Act.

While not a record fine (and well below the upper limit of $500,000 provided by the Act), the judgment reiterates the importance for businesses of getting commercial electronic communications right – if only to avoid reputational damage.