Recent News

Protection for Small Businesses against Unfair Contract Terms from November 2016

From 12 November 2016 the unfair contracts provisions of the consumer law will be extended to cover standard form contracts involving small businesses. The Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Act 2015 recognises the disparity in bargaining power between small businesses and their larger cousins and extends to them the protections currently […]

Last Minute Asset Protection: Not So Super

Even where you operate your business through a company, you can, as a director, be personally liable for claims arising out of the company’s activities. The corporate shield has long been split asunder both by judge-made law and a myriad of statutes. So, apart from taking out insurance for obvious risks (such as for personal […]

‘Chucking a Sickie’? Just Chuck it or Get Chucked!

Australia Day is right around the corner. This year the public holiday falls on a Tuesday.  So who wouldn’t be tempted to turn the celebrations into a four day long-weekend, by ‘chucking a sickie’ in the great Aussie tradition on the Monday immediately prior?  Well, think again.  You might just find yourself out of work […]

High Court Triangulates Labour Hire Sham Contracting

Employers that once thought they could avoid the sham contracting prohibitions in section 357 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) may have to review their operations. Interposing an independent labour hire company between the company and their workers, or "conversion" of employees into independent contractors, will not necessarily work. In a case handed down on 2 December 2015, […]

‘Reinbeers’ at Christmas Parties – What can go wrong for employers when alcohol is involved?

The Christmas decorations are going up and the staff and employers alike are looking forward to kicking off the silly season with a staff Christmas party. What can possibly go wrong? Unlimited alcohol at Christmas parties is every employee’s dream, but it can also be your worst nightmare. If you haven’t managed your risks effectively, […]

Engaging a labour hire employee – the Fair Work Commission’s view on ‘outsourcing’

Engaging a labour hire employee – the Fair Work Commission’s view on   ‘outsourcing’ If you offer permanent employment to a temp worker, then the worker may get unfair dismissal rights, and sooner than you would have thought. Usually, when you take on a new employee, you would expect that the employee would not have unfair […]

Preliminary discovery a new weapon for the status quo

Established companies have many legal and commercial weapons at their disposal to protect their position. The financial power of large corporations with established supply agreements can make it almost impossible for newcomers to gain a foothold. Allegations of intellectual property infringement can be levelled at any competitor, regardless of their size. Preliminary discovery is the […]

Caravan Park Operators On Notice

New laws have just been proclaimed that give caravan park residents more rights.   New rules of conduct for caravan park operators require the operators to: act honestly, fairly and professionally, exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence, not engage in high pressure tactics, harassment or harsh or unconscionable conduct, and not disclose confidential information.  Breach of the rules can result in […]

Natural or Legal Disaster? When a determination is not a determination and the wheels of justice are slow to turn.

Usually, an expert’s determination expressed to be binding and non-appealable is just that – final. However, the New South Wales Court of Appeal declared an expert’s determination not binding because the expert did not follow the contract. The Court remitted the determination to the expert with directions about the proper construction of the contract. Background […]

New anti-bullying policy no defence: same culture, same consequence.

A new anti-bullying policy did not stay the hand of Deputy President Wells of the Fair Work Commission (FWC), who made an order to stop bullying under section 789FC of the Fair Work Act 2009. Bullying means repeated, unreasonable behaviour towards a worker, creating a risk to health and safety (section 789FD). Ms Roberts alleged […]