The High Court has increased the fine imposed on Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd by a district court judge relating to the use of SE62 500E grade steel mesh.
Both the Commerce Commission and Steel & Tube appealed the $1.885 million fine imposed in the Auckland District Court last October, and the High Court has increased the fine to $2.009 million.
Steel & Tube chief executive Mark Malpass said the company was disappointed by the decision and continued to stand by its products.
“The court case did not relate to the performance characteristics of the steel mesh. Instead it related to historical issues prior to April 2016 regarding the inadvertent use of a testing laboratory’s logo on the bottom of Steel & Tube test certificates and application of testing methodologies under a standard.
“As stated consistently, the company’s view is that even if testing methods at the time did not meet the testing requirements in full, the differences in testing would not have a material impact on the performance of the steel mesh.
“The breaches of the Fair Trading Act were unintentional, and Steel & Tube immediately rectified testing procedures & documentation when advised of the issue. Since the date of these historic breaches, the board has been refreshed and significant management change has occurred.
“New management has invested in & focused on strengthening the company’s quality & testing systems, including recently achieving ISO 9001:2015 quality certification and commencement of independent audits across its international steel mill suppliers by Lloyd’s Register.
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has indicated homeowners should not be concerned about the safety of the steel mesh. The Structural Engineering Society of NZ has also stated homeowners should not be unnecessarily concerned about the ductility of steel mesh in their houses.”
As outlined by the Commerce Commission last year, the offending fell into 2 categories:
- Representations that were liable to mislead the public on batch tags, batch test certificates, advertising collateral and Steel & Tube’s website that its SE62 steel mesh was 500E grade steel mesh, meeting the Australia/NZ Standard for reinforcing steel, when it was not. Steel & Tube failed to properly age & test the product
- False & misleading representations on batch test certificates and Steel & Tube’s website claiming the steel mesh had been independently tested, when it had not.
21 November 2018: Both sides appeal steel mesh penalty
24 October 2018: Steel & Tube fined $1.885 million for misleading steel mesh representations
20 August 2018: Steel mesh supplier Brilliance fined for misleading representations
26 April 2018: First companies sentenced arising from steel mesh investigation
2 November 2016: Steel mesh testing rules tightened
21 August 2016: Steel mesh testing requirements out for feedback
25 April 2016: Commission lifts ‘stop’ on Euro Corp steel mesh
8 April 2016: Steel & Tube undertakes dual mesh testing
5 March 2016: Suppliers recheck as commission questions steel mesh, ministry not worried
Attribution: Company release.