ACCC Bans Excessive Credit Card Surcharges

A 2015 study conducted by Mastercard found that Australians pay approximately $1.6 billion annually in credit card surcharges. In response to this study and a high number of consumer complaints, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (“the Act”) has recently been amended to prohibit businesses from imposing excessive credit card surcharges on consumers.

The ban on excessive surcharges took effect for large merchants from 1 September 2016 and will apply to all businesses from 1 September 2017.

Legal Update: Swimming Pool Compliance Deadline Has Finally Arrived

In our previous newsletter we informed you of the pending introduction of new rules to ensure compliance with swimming pool regulations. Well they are finally here with some changes. The new rules commenced on 29 April 2016.

The new rules apply to the sale or lease of any property that contains a swimming pool or spa pool other than a strata property with more than two (2) lots. The new rules are designed to ensure that all swimming pools and spa pools have compliant child-restraint barriers.

Work, Health and Safety in the Workplace – Penalties Under the New Act

The Commonwealth Government’s Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (“WHS Act”) commenced in 2012, replacing the old occupational health and safety laws in New South Wales. In our December 2013 newsletter we introduced the new legislation and informed you of the new duties under the WHS Act and to whom they applied.

The WHS Act also created new and broad statutory enforcement powers, including the imposition of criminal offences for breach of statutory duties under the WHS Act.

Legislative Change to Off the Plan Contracts

In our December 2015 newsletter we wrote about the November 2015 amendments to the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW) regarding developers rescinding “off the plan contracts” under “sunset clauses” (as defined in that act).

The new section 66ZL of the Conveyancing Act allows the Court, on the application of a vendor, to make an order permitting the vendor to rescind an off the plan contract under a sunset clause only if the vendor satisfies the Court that making the order is “just and equitable in all the circumstances”. The Court is to consider:

Be careful when negotiating by email – you may find yourself bound by contract

When negotiating a deal by email or telephone you may find that you have entered unexpectedly into a legally binding contract.

In Stellard Pty Ltd v North Queensland Pty Ltd [2015] QSC 119, the Queensland Supreme Court decided that a vendor and a purchaser of a petrol station business and the land concluded a legally binding contract for sale by exchanging emails and telephone calls, including via a selling agent.

A new opportunity for small business restructures

From 1 July 2016 small business owners will be allowed to restructure their affairs and take advantage of new concessions introduced by Parliament to allow greater flexibility which may lead to substantial costs savings. Under the “Small Business Restructure Roll-over Bill” owners of a small business entity, ie. an entity whose annual turnover does not exceed $2 million, will be able to change their legal structure in which they operate their business without incurring a tax liability on that transfer. One way this new measure can be used is for small business owners to move the ownership of the business assets into a family discretionary trust structure which can provide ongoing and substantial tax savings.