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Last week saw the removal of United States retail giant Target's chairman and CEO as the fall out continued from last year's hack of 40 million customer payment card records and 70 million other records. While Australian companies and government have not been immune from attacks by hackers, it raises some important questions.
The Home Building Amendment Bill 2014 (NSW) had its second reading in the NSW parliament on 6 May 2014. The Bill proposes to change the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) by ensuring increased levels of consumer protection and facilitating builders in completing their work.
The High Court has refused Agripower Australia Ltd's request for special leave to appeal the Queensland Court of Appeal's decision in J & D Rigging Pty Ltd v Agripower Australia Ltd  QCA 406.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released a consultation paper on a proposed rule change to the good faith rebidding provisions in the National Electricity Rules (NER). If implemented, the proposed changes will have very serious implications for participants in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Minter Ellison's Energy & Resources team has prepared a detailed white paper on the proposed rebidding rule change which you can download.
On 14 March 2014 the OECD issued a Discussion Draft Public Discussion Draft BEPS Action 6: Preventing the Granting of Treaty Benefits in inappropriate circumstances (Discussion Draft). Responses were due by 9 April 2014.
The NSW Government Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services has released the 2014 Crown Lands Legislation White Paper. This follows the release of the 2013 Crown Lands Management Review Paper reviewing the control and management of Crown land and the 2014 NSW Trade & Investment - Crown Lands Division's response to that 2013 Review Paper.
On 1 May 2014, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia handed down its appeal decision in SPAR Licensing Pty Ltd v MIS QLD Pty Ltd. In doing so, it set aside a franchise agreement resulting from the franchisor's breach of the Franchising Code of Conduct. Franchisors will need to review their disclosure documents (including the accompanying financial information) and ensure that they are fully aware of the technical requirements under the Code for the preparation and provision of a disclosure document to franchisees.
On 28 April 2014, Australia entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the United States of America to improve international tax compliance and implement the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Exposure draft legislation has also been released by the Australian Treasury which will give domestic effect to our obligations under the IGA.
A key decision has provided confirmation of the purpose and effect of a number of key provisions relating to perfection, priority and vesting rules under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth).
On 24 March 2014 the OECD issued a Discussion Draft on BEPS Action 1: Address the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy as part of the OECD's 15 point Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. Responses were due by 14 April 2014. In this Alert we consider the main issues and options for taxation reform raised in the Discussion Draft.
Treasury has recently released draft legislation for public comment, with the aim of significantly reducing compliance costs for business and improving business productivity generally. There is a five week consultation period, with submissions closing on 16 May 2014.
An Issues Paper has been released as part of the government's competition law and policy review announced by Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson in December 2013. Panellists have since been appointed and a wide-ranging Terms of Reference released in late March 2014.
Australia's conclusion of two free trade deals with South Korea and Japan this week are likely to present significant opportunities in the agricultural sector, and reflect an increasing interest in Australian agriculture from overseas parties.
The Queensland Government has unveiled a series of amendments to be made to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (BCIPA). The reforms are intended to come into effect later this year. This marks the next step in the plan aimed at overhauling the state's building regulations, driven by the government's commitment to developing the construction industry as one of the 'four pillars' of the Queensland economy.
The NSW Government has announced that the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Amendment Act 2013 will commence on 21 April 2014. Construction contracts entered into from 21 April 2014 (other than certain residential building work) will be subject to the SOPA Amendments.
We look at what's in store for trade mark law in 2014, and provide a snapshot of the headline cases from the previous year. Going forward, we expect to see the High Court considering the test for 'distinctiveness' in the Cantarella and Modena dispute, the practical implications of the recent amendments to the Trade Marks Act in full swing, and potential changes in search engine strategies for companies as a result of the High Court's decision in Google v ACCC.
On 3 April 2014, the Full Federal Court issued its judgment in Commissioner of Taxation v Resource Capital Fund III LP overturning the Federal Court's judgment. This case is significant because the main issue it considers relates to the treatment of a partnership that is tax transparent in one jurisdiction and taxable in another, and the application of a double tax treaty.
The Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) has been amended, heralding significant changes to the way financial planners are regulated. Financial planners will need to understand the boundaries between providing purely financial product advice and a tax (financial) advice service, and to determine whether they need to register with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) as Registered (Tax) Financial Advisers from 1 July 2014.
Today the Minister for Small Business, the Hon Bruce Billson MP, released an exposure draft of amendments to the Franchising Code of Conduct and relevant provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for public consultation. The substantial amendments in the draft Code confer new rights on franchisees and increase the regulatory and compliance obligations of franchisors.
The Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC) has released a broad discussion paper to review the establishment and management of schemes, which opens up all aspects of the legislative structure. This is a continuation of the review which produced the CAMAC July 2012 Report, and may provide a useful indication of the issues that the Financial System Inquiry will consider in relation to managed investment schemes.