The legal relationship of agency

The importance of establishing whether a legal relationship of agency exists, and if so, to what extent, can be critical when ascertaining whether a person had authority to enter into an agreement on behalf of another person or entity.  The precise legal nature of the relationship may be important to the parties if either are attempting to enforce their rights under an agreement between them. [Read more…]

Diversion of corporate opportunity doctrine

Directors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the company they direct and its shareholders.  This duty owed by the directors (Directors) arise by virtue of the fiduciary relationship in equity between a director and the company and the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)(Act).

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Safe Harbour granted to proactive Directors of an insolvent company who are not merely ‘living in hope’

Amendments to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corps Act) introducing the safe harbour insolvency provisions come into effect on 1 July 2018.   Under section 588G of the Corps Act a director of a company may be personally liable for debts incurred by the company if at the time the debt is incurred there are reasonable grounds to suspect the company is insolvent.  The section 588GA safe harbour provisions aim to encourage directors to remain in control of a business in financial difficulty and to take reasonable steps, outside of a formal insolvency process, to restructure and / or allow it to trade out of its difficulties in anticipation that such action will achieve a better outcome for the company than immediately appointing an administrator or liquidator.  The provisions encourage directors to closely monitor the financial position of the business, engage early with financial distress and then actively take steps to either restructure the business or, if that is not possible, to move quickly to formal insolvency.   [Read more…]

Quantification of losses for breach of contract

A breach of contract can broadly be described as the failure to comply with any term of an agreement; some examples include a refusal to perform, incomplete performance, delay or unlawful termination.  Once it has been determined that a breach of contract has in fact occurred, the next question is how to determine the resulting loss and whether it can be recovered from the responsible party.  Whilst there is no hard and fast rule when attempting to quantify losses, there are certain principles which form part of the process of  assessing damages caused by a breach of contract.

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Legal issues of making financial forecasts in business

When a business is seeking to raise capital or advertise as being for sale financial forecasts are often made in a way so as to appeal to the target audience – investors or potential buyers.  In some cases however, the forecasts made do not translate into reality giving rise to potential legal consequences.  As forecasts are indicators often relied used by investors to make decisions on whether or not to invest, statements that are incorrect may amount to misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) (being Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)) and have potentially serious legal consequences. [Read more…]

De-encryption laws to make tech giants cooperate with law enforcement

According to the ABC website, in the next few weeks Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor is poised to present new legislation which once passed will require technology companies and multinationals to assist law enforcement to access encrypted data of “suspected criminals and terrorists”.  Currently, the bill is not yet before parliament but should appear on its website once officially announced.

In February, the government has indicated its plans to tackle criminal use of encryption with the Honourable Peter Dutton MP stating in an address to the National Press Club:

“Law enforcement access to encrypted communications should be on the same basis as telephone and other intercepts,
in which companies provide vital and willing assistance in response to court orders.”
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Directors personal liability – misleading & deceptive conduct

Despite the corporate veil, there are many ways in which a director can be personally liable for activities the company which they direct.   One such ground is misleading and deceptive conduct pursuant to section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law (Cth)(ACL).  This question of personal liability is of concern to conservative and risk averse directors who attempt to strike the delicate balance between governance and entrepreneurialism.  Misleading and deceptive conduct can occur in a variety of circumstances in business dealings.  From misleading advertising, inaccurate projections to contractual dealings between parties.  It could be as simple as making misstatement regarding a profit forecast or embellishing the outcome of a contract. [Read more…]

Do beneficiaries have a right to the trust deed?

In Queensland, the statutory rights and obligations of Trustees are contained in the Trusts Act 1973 (Qld)(Trust Act).  The role of the Trustee is fiduciary in nature and as such, there is a duty to act in accordance with both the terms of the deed of trust (Trust Deed) and the common law and statutory duties.  However, the Trust Act does not contain an express provision for a Trustee of a trust to provide a Trust Deed to beneficiaries. As a result, common law provides beneficiaries the right to make such requests to the Trustee.  This article will discuss the common law right of beneficiaries to access a Trust Deed upon request to the Trustee. [Read more…]

Counterclaiming in legal proceedings in Queensland

It is not uncommon for parties to a dispute to each believe that an action lies against the other arising from the same facts.  Where this occurs, and one party (Plaintiff) has commenced proceedings against the other party (Defendant) in Queensland, the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld) (UCPR) allows the Defendant to commence their own proceeding against the Plaintiff within the original proceeding, rather than requiring the Defendant to commence a separate legal action.  This is known as a counterclaim.   In this article we consider the nature of a counterclaim and the rules and circumstances that govern its use in proceedings in Queensland Courts. [Read more…]

What is a term sheet?

A term sheet (Term Sheet) is a document that sets out the basic terms and conditions on which parties intend to enter into a commercial agreement.  Term Sheets are generally not intended to create legal relations between the parties but rather to form the basis of further discussions, which may be exclusive for a period of time and on a strictly confidential basis.  Once parties reach consensus on the commercial terms of a Term Sheet, a legally binding contract is then drawn up.

 

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