Twas the night before the Christmas Party… – George Hoddle

GRHThe Mercury has risen, Paul Kelly is making gravy, Christmas is just around the corner and the Christmas parties are now in full swing.

Christmas parties for employers and employees provide a welcome relief from the day-to-day stress of being in business. It is an opportunity for employers to show their appreciation for the year’s hard work to their employees.

Both employers and employees should be wary however, that a Christmas party even if it is outside of office hours and at a different venue than the normal workplace is still defined as “in the course of employment”.

A recent decision in the Fair Work Commission saw an employee whilst behaving in an otherwise inappropriate and offensive way, did not constitute grounds for dismissal.… Read More

Is your employment documentation ready to go for 2017? – Keiran Breckenridge

KXBbwThe Australian Institute of Company Directors released its Director Sentiment Index for the second half of the year on 1 December 2016.  One of the headline findings is that, despite greater global uncertainty, 34% of directors expect their business to increase both levels of staffing and investment.  Business confidence among directors has increased by ten index points and is at its highest since 2013.

When a business increases its staffing levels, it also adjusts all manner of systems and processes. The risks to the business associated with its employees increase.  At Everingham Solomons, we hold a comprehensive database of employment documents that can be tailored to the needs of your business to assist you to manage risks around the employer/employee relationship.… Read More

Trusts: Risks you didn’t know existed – Clint Coles

CCA trust is a relationship between people (including companies) about property. One person, the trustee, holds the legal title to property for the benefit of other people, the beneficiaries.  The trust itself is not a legal entity, rather just a set of accounts held by the trustee for the beneficiaries.  Both the trustee and the beneficiaries may hold separate ‘personal’ property which is not subject to the trust relationship.

The development of the trust as a legal concept was all very chivalrous. About 600 years ago, before women were allowed to own property, men would go off on crusades, and bearing in mind they may never return, transferred the ownership in their property to another ‘trusted’  man to hold ‘on trust’ for their wife and infants.… Read More

Contributions made during marriage or de-facto relationships – Sophie Newham

 

SKNWhen marriages or de-facto relationships come to an end, it is suggested that parties finalise the financial and property matters between them.

The Family Court can make legally enforceable orders in respect of dividing the assets and liabilities of married and de-facto couples. There are also benefits of entering into orders including stamp duty exemptions and capital gains tax rollover relief when assets are transferred between parties.

The Court initially looks at the value of the parties’ assets and liabilities and then assesses the contributions made by the parties to the acquisition, maintenance and or improvement to those assets throughout the relationship.… Read More

Can employers become responsible for the criminal acts of their employees? – George Hoddle

GRHThrough the employment of staff an employer has exposure for the actions of an employee that bind the employer. This long established legal principle is referred to as Vicarious Liability.

Vicarious Liability is a liability imposed on one person for the wrongful act of another on the basis of a legal relationship existing between them. This extends to an employer being liable for the wrongful act of an employee.

An employer has long been found to be liable for the harmful acts of an employee if they are done within the course of their employment. A simple example of this would be an employers liability to pay damages in circumstances where an employee in the course of their employment has negligently caused harm to another person.… Read More

Don’t Wait Until You’re Dead, Plan Ahead – Natasha Wood

NKW-booksI know it’s hard to accept but if you think “I’m young and healthy, I’ll worry about estate planning when I’m old and sick”, you are WRONG!

You drive a car, travel overseas, and you are not permanently encased in balls of cotton wool which means it is not just granny that needs to be thinking about protecting her interests.

If you want a say in how your assets are divided after your death, you need a Will. If you don’t have one, the succession legislation will make that decision for you.

If you want to nominate the person/s who will manage your financial and legal affairs should you get stranded overseas or otherwise require assistance, you need a Power of Attorney.… Read More

Words from Beyond the Grave – Lesley McDonnell

LAMA Willmaker died in 2015 leaving a Will where she left her estate to two of her children to the exclusion of one daughter. The reasons for excluding her daughter were written into the Will with the following sentence reciting that the Willmaker considered the excluded daughter “to be a compulsive liar and her lies have hurt me severely over the years”. An application was made to the Court by the excluded daughter for the offending sentence to be excluded from the Will on the grounds that the words were of an offensive or libellous nature.

A Court has the power to omit a word or words from a Will in order to protect Court processes from abuse and to prevent unnecessary harm being caused to the subject(s) of the words but this power is to be exercised “on a case-by-case basis and with great care”.… Read More

SIGNATURES IN THE CLOUD – Ken Sorrenson

KJSbwElectronic signature processes are increasingly being used by businesses and financial institutions. They offer convenience and potential cost savings particularly where documents might need to be signed by people in various different locations.

There are a number of digital platforms available but most involve –

  • The documents to be signed being uploaded to the cloud;
  • The intended signatory being notified by a link to access the document; and
  • The intended signatory opening the link and following on line instructions with the end result being that a signature is inserted into the document.

The generally accepted legal view is that legally binding documents can be created and executed in this manner however a recent New South Wales Court of Appeal case highlighted the problems that can arise.… Read More

Blockchains and DAOs – a view of the future – Keiran Breckenridge

KXBbwDistributed ledger technologies utilising “blockchains” are set to change the legal industry and the industries in which our clients operate. The cryptocurrency Bitcoin is an early application of this technology.

Please go online and look for the TED talk by Don Tapscott: “How the blockchain is changing money and business“.

DAOs – Decentralised Autonomous Organisations – are a fascinating example, and just may be the way businesses are run in the future. DAOs are organisations run mainly through computer coding and smart contracts.  A DAO’s records and program rules are securely held on a blockchain for all stakeholders in the organisation to access, review and verify.… Read More

Are small business employers exempt from paying redundancy pay?

TLRbwAs a general rule, a small business employer is not required to pay redundancy pay, as set out in the National Employment Standards however there are some circumstances where you may be legally required to make these payments.

A “small business employer” is defined under the Fair Work Act as an employer who employs fewer than 15 employees at the time of the redundancy. This includes all employees you employee, the employee who is being dismissed, and any other employee who is being dismissed or terminated.

A casual employee is not to be counted unless they are employed on a regular and systematic basis.… Read More