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From January to December 2013, the ATO/Commonwealth achieved an approximately 75% success rate in tax litigation in the Federal Court, Full Federal Court and the High Court of Australia.
The Department of Finance has released further tranches of draft rules under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) for consultation. The PGPA Act is due to replace the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 on 1 July 2014.
With the announcement of a review of the Retail Leases Act 1994, the NSW Government has invited stakeholders to make their submissions by the 7 February 2014 deadline. We have identified the areas subject to review which may be particularly relevant to our clients in the list below.
The Queensland Court of Appeal has overturned the controversial decision of Agripower Australia Ltd v J & D Rigging Pty Ltd & Ors. The decision affects contractors carrying out 'construction work' on land the subject of a mining lease. It is now clear that those contractors may make an adjudication application in respect of the work pursuant to the BCIP Act.
On 28 December 2013, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress announced the fourth set of amendments to the PRC Company Law, which will take effect on 1 March 2014. The amendments are intended to encourage investment and relax the requirements necessary to establish a company in China.
ASIC issued Class Order [CO 13/1621] on 7 January 2014 to exempt responsible entities (REs) from the application form requirements of section 1016A.
The Queensland Court of Appeal has overturned the decision of BM Alliance Coal Operations Pty Ltd v BGC Contracting Pty Ltd & Ors  QSC 67, severing part of an adjudicator's decision affected by a jurisdictional error from the balance of the adjudicator's decision. The appeal decision benefits respondents to an adjudication if the adjudication decision contains a jurisdictional error.
The decision in Julstar Pty Ltd v Hart Trading Pty Ltd highlights the importance of documenting key representations made by the parties prior to entering into a franchise agreement or indeed any agreement. The Minister for Small Business, Mr Bruce Billson, has also indicated that the government welcomes the recommendations of Alan Wein on changes to the Franchising Code of Conduct.
The Coalition Government has announced that it will make good on its election promises to fix some of the problems of FOFA and more.
On 16 December 2013, ASIC announced the results of its review of 30 June 2013 financial reports. ASIC's comments should be carefully reviewed by everyone involved in the financial reporting of listed and other disclosing entities.
The second tranche of draft rules under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 has been released for consultation by the Department of Finance. The two latest draft rules address Government Business Enterprises and material personal interests.
Two recent judgments of the Federal Court have highlighted the potential for Australian competition law to impact on distribution arrangements between principals and their agents. The more recent judgment, in the ACCC's case against Flight Centre, means that such arrangements may need to be reviewed to ensure they do not fall foul of the prohibitions on price fixing under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The High Court has confirmed that the liquidators of a landlord can disclaim a lease, with the effect of terminating the tenant's leasehold estate or interests in the land.
On 14 December 2013 the Assistant Treasurer announced the government's position in relation to the remaining 64 announced but unlegislated tax and superannuation reforms. Of the 64 measures that were subject to further consideration, the government has now announced that 16 measures will proceed and 48 measures will not proceed. Full details of the announcement are summarised in this Alert.
The Board of Taxation has released a Discussion Paper as part of its review and consultation on the arm’s length debt test (ALDT) in the thin capitalisation rules. The ALDT is one of three alternatives available to taxpayers to determine the maximum level of debt on which interest deductions may be claimed and is an alternative to the safe harbour threshold in the thin capitalisation rules.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) is expected to commence operation on 1 January 2014. As the first 'super tribunal' in NSW, NCAT will take over the jurisdiction of 22 exiting state tribunals, including the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, the Medical Tribunal and the Local Government Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, has released an Issues Paper as part of the 'seven-year post-implementation review' of Australia's Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing legislative and regulatory regime. Stakeholders are invited to provide input into the overall operation of the AML/CTF Act and to identify areas of deficiency or possible enhancement.
On 27 November 2013, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013 (NSW) (Act). The Act consolidates the Motor Dealers Act 1974 (NSW) and the Motor Vehicle Repairs Act 1980 (NSW) into one cohesive piece of legislation and introduces new provisions regulating the relationships between NSW motor dealers and motor vehicle manufacturers.
A recent case has underlined the importance of a regular review of founding documents to ensure that those documents continue to meet your not for profit organisation's objectives and accurately reflect the activities that the organisation is carrying out.
In mid-November, ASIC released a consultation paper in relation to the relief for employee share schemes from the disclosure (prospectus/PDS) and licensing requirements of the Corporations Act.