Red Stag Timber takes Juken NZ to court over J-Frame labelling

Red Stag said it has filed proceedings in the Auckland High Court alleging Juken breached the Fair Trading Act.

Red Stag Timber, New Zealand's largest sawmill operator, is taking legal action against its Japanese-owned rival Juken New Zealand, alleging Juken mislabelled its engineered laminated veneer lumber product J-Frame.

Rotorua-based Red Stag said it has filed proceedings in the Auckland High Court alleging Juken breached the Fair Trading Act 1986 and said in a statement the issue was important because it relates to the treatment of framing timber following the 'leaky homes' crisis. Red Stag manufactures and produces solid wood products, including framing timber for construction in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Juken, owned by WoodOne in Japan, produces both engineered products and solid wood products.

"Red Stag Timber claims that by labelling J-Frame 'H1.2' and failing to make it clear that J-Frame is envelope treated, Juken New Zealand Limited failed to comply with the building code and misled purchasers," Red Stag said in a statement.

Red Stag has previously complained to the Commerce Commission about the way Juken labelled J-Frame. The regulator responded by issuing a compliance advice letter to Juken earlier this year regarding J-Frame labelling, saying it did not meet the requirements of NZ Standard 3640, was incorrectly labelled as H1.2, and may not have complied with AS/NZ Standard 1604.4 because it doesn't carry an 'E' label signifying envelope treatment.

At the heart of the stoush is the treatment of timber framing used in New Zealand homes, typically known as H1.2. The industry's Standard 3640 requires full sapwood penetration of timber framing using treatment chemicals. Companies such as Red Stag are concerned that a more basic envelope treatment process isn't sufficient to protect timber framing. The standard, on the chemical preservation of timber, is currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

"Following the leaky home crisis, New Zealanders want certainty and assurance around treated timber," said Red Stag group chief executive Marty Verry. "Despite the compliance letter issued by the Commerce Commission, we consider proceedings are necessary to ensure that companies such as Juken comply with the building code and relevant standards when labelling their timber products."

Red Stag said it wouldn't comment further as the matter is now before the court. However, the company said it is continuing to raise additional concerns relating to Juken New Zealand's treatment, codemark and labelling of its products with the appropriate regulatory bodies. A Juken spokesperson wasn't immediately available to comment.