Relief for companies during COVID-19

On 24 March 2020, the Federal Government passed the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth) (Act).  As a part of the Act, insolvency and corporations laws have been temporarily amended in light of the financial challenges businesses are facing in the wake of COVID-19.  The changes made are intended to avoid unnecessary insolvencies and bankruptcies by providing a safety net for companies and their directors during the pandemic.  This article will discuss the key changes. [Read more…]

The new business as usual in 2020!

It’s perhaps an understatement to say that the last two (2) months for Australian business has been unprecedented.  How can any business plan adequately consider and cater for a global pandemic and mass business shutdowns?  Extraordinary seems to be the new business as usual (BAU) in 2020! [Read more…]

New Fair Work information statement

In December 2019, the Fair Work Ombudsman updated the Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS).  The new FWIS sets out information for businesses about the conditions of employment for new employees.  Businesses must issue a copy of the FWIS to all new employees before, or as soon as possible after, they commence employment.  This article discusses the FWIS key changes for 2020. [Read more…]

Insolvent trading – prison for former Kleenmaid director

Founded in 1980, whitegoods importer and distributor Kleenmaid (Company) fell into administration in 2009 with debts amounting to approximately $96 million, including $26 million in customer deposits that had been paid for appliances yet to be delivered.  After an extensive investigation and 59-day trial by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), founder and former director Mr. Andrew Young (Mr. Young) was sentenced to nine years in jail for offences arising from the Company’s collapse. [Read more…]

Compilations from the public domain – confidential or not?

In the case of Ezystay Systems Pty Ltd v Link 2 Pty Ltd [2014] NSWSC 180 (Ezystay) it was held that the plaintiff’s business manuals were confidential despite having been compiled from the documents in “public domain”.  On Appeal, the Court had to re-visit the test for confidential information to determine whether or not the respondents’ software, business manuals and other documents collated from the public domain were in fact capable of being protected as confidential information.

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Shareholder oppression – valuation issues

Shareholder oppression or minority shareholder oppression can occur when the majority (shareholder(s)) in an entity misuse their majority to oppress or control the minority shareholders.  There are is not a limited number or combination of activities which the majority may engage in to oppress the minority, sometimes referred to as “sharp practice” or “board room tactics”, the possibilities are almost infinite. [Read more…]

Risks of making financial forecasts

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…]

IP contracts now subject to restrictive trade practice provisions

Agreements providing for the conditional licensing or assignment of intellectual property (IP) rights are now subject to the restrictive trade practice provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA).  On 13 September 2019 section 51(3) of the CCA was been repealed removing the exception which applied to the licensing and assignment of IP.   This means commercial transactions involving the assignment of IP rights will be subject to the anti-competitive prohibitions, as are other transactions involving property. [Read more…]

Workplace Bullying by a Body Corporate

Section 789FA of the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FWA) enables a worker who has been bullied at work to apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order to stop the bullying.  For the purposes of the FWA, reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way will not constitute workplace bullying.

A body corporate rarely directly employs workers.  Usually, an onsite care-taking service contractor is engaged (typically a company) to perform on-site duties such as grounds maintenance and the like, those duties normally being discharged by the company’s directors or employees engaged by the company. [Read more…]

A director’s duty to act in the best interests of the company: MG Corrosion Consultants Pty Ltd v Gilmour

The case of MG Corrosion Consultants Pty Ltd v Gilmour [2014] FCA 990 involved allegations of a director authorising unnecessary and excessive payments that caused detriment to a company and its shareholders.  This case serves as a reminder to directors of the importance of adhering to their duties under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act).

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