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Laws for the Paws


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what we used to consider a “normal” working environment as working from home is now the new status quo. Fortunately, this has allowed many of us to bond with our pets but what happens when our beloved pets get themselves into trouble? And the next question that follows, to what extent can local council officers enter our property to seize our pets?

Powers to entry property under the CAA Ct

In New South Wales, the Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) confers large powers upon local councils to regulate the effective and responsible care and management of our little furry companions.

One of the key provisions in the CAA Act is section 69A Powers of authorised officers to enter property, which allows an authorised officer to:

  • enter any property to seize or secure any companion animal, or
  • determine whether there has been compliance with, or contravention of the Companion Act or the Companion Regulations.
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Impact of Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 on Local Governments

In December 2020, the Commonwealth parliament passed the Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (Cth) (Foreign Relations Act), which will impose new restrictions on local governments’ autonomy in making certain types of arrangements with foreign entities.

The Foreign Relations Act requires State and Territory statutory bodies, including local governments, to notify the responsible Minister (which is currently the Foreign Minister) before entering into arrangements with foreign public entities. The type of “arrangement” that will trigger compliance with this requirement are extremely wide and include:- any written arrangement; agreement; contracts; understandings; or undertakings, whether legally binding or not. The types of foreign entities with whom arrangements are entered into that will trigger the notification requirement are also very wide, including:- foreign countries; foreign local governments; and certain types of universities.

Under section 34 of the Foreign Relations Act, a local government must notify the Foreign Minister when it proposes to enter into an arrangement with a foreign entity. The Foreign Minister may then, under sections 35 and 36, make a binding declaration that the local government must not enter into the notified arrangement if the Foreign Minister is satisfied that the arrangement would adversely affect, or would be likely to adverse affect, Australia’s foreign relations, or would be, or would be likely to be, inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.
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New Practice Note Issued in NSW on Voluntary Planning Agreements

On 12 February 2021, the Planning Secretary issued a new Planning Agreement Practice Note (VPA Practice Note) under clause 25B(2) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations 2000 (EPA Regulations), replacing the Development Contributions – Practice Note – Planning Agreements (Former VPA Practice Note) issued on 19 July 2005. This clause provides guidance on the making, administration and negotiation of VPAs under section 7.4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EPA Act). On the same day, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Development Contributions) Regulations 2021 (Amendment Regulations) made numerous amendments to the EPA Regulations.

VPA Practice Note Differences to Former VPA Practice Note

The VPA Practice Note contains numerous differences from the Former VPA Practice Note; most notably:

  • Providing specific guidance on offers to enter into VPAs,
  • Providing specific guidance on developer’s obligations under a VPA through security for enforcement,
  • Providing specific guidance on VPA registration,
  • Providing specific guidance on re-notifications of draft VPAs where material changes are made post-public notice,
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Thinking of building or renovating? Don’t underestimate the importance of Council approval!

It’s likely crossed most home owners’ minds:  it might be nice to replace the front fence, or it’s time to upgrade to a bigger backyard garden shed. But before home owners get too excited, it’s crucial that any plans for any kind of development are submitted to the local Council. Omitting this step could result in not only a potential fine and conviction, but the demolition of that dream development.

Why do I need Council approval?

When you’re sitting on your deck admiring the view and being thankful that there are no high rise developments in your line of sight, you can thank your Council’s Local Environment Plan. Each Council’s Local Environment Plan sets out what each parcel of land in your suburb and community is zoned as and therefore what can or cannot be built there. So in a residential area, it may be prohibited for buildings taller than two stories to be built, or for a rubbish dump to be next to your child’s primary school. But these same regulations also limit what you can and cannot do with your own land, from what kinds of home businesses you can run, to what kind of additions, renovations and developments can be constructed as well as what kinds of development require consent.
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Divorce Lawyer Explains the Steps You Can Take if You are Unhappy with Your Final Orders

If you are not satisfied with your Final Orders made by the Court, your divorce lawyer can provide you with some advice about your options of an Appeal. Appeals must be filed within 28 days of the Orders being made.

However, the filing of an appeal does not automatically stop the obligations contained in the Final Orders. As such, your divorce lawyer may advise whether it is appropriate to file an application to stay the Final Orders. If the application for a stay is successful, the Final Orders will not operate until the appeal is decided.

The application for a stay of the proceedings will depend on whether the stay is necessary to preserve the subject matter of the litigation. For example, is there a risk that there will not be any money left over to make a pay out if the appeal is successful. There will need to be some kind of exceptional circumstance.
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The Schools Blog: Part 2 – Recovering fees whilst retaining relationships

Unpaid school fees can cause a strain in the relationship between the school and parents and guardians. The school is often left in a difficult position where the desire to educate children competes with the financial viability of running the school. There are however, a few simple steps that can be taken to resolve conflicts about unpaid school fees between the school and parents and guardians.

  1. Telephone Discussions – Informal discussions are an undervalued tool in resolving fee disputes. Whilst it may be more convenient in the short term to send statements to parents and guardians, a quick conversation with the parents and guardians can help to identify the underlying issues which are preventing payment. Smaller issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently so that the school fees are paid without the need to escalate the non-payment. Larger issues can be referred to a solicitor for consideration of the most efficient and cost effective forward in rectifying the non-payment.
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The Schools Blog: Part 1 – Starting terms the right way

Terms of Enrolment are often thought of as a mere form in an enrolment pack. The value of Terms of Enrolment go beyond this: correctly drafted agreements are fundamental to establishing enduring relationships between your school and potential parents and guardians. This the case where the Terms of Enrolment set the expectations for your school and the parents and guardians so that if things do go wrong, there is no ambiguity about the rights and responsibilities of your school in recovering fees and continuing education.

So, what terms will set such expectations? Read on to find out.

  1. An obligation for parents and guardians to keep their contact details up to date – Mainlining a line of communication is key to resolving fee related disputes. Placing an onus on parents and guardians to update the school about changing contact details will help to keep the school’s contact records up to date. In time, this will reduce instances where disputes arise from missed fee statements and reminders or proceedings commenced from an inability to contact parents and guardians to discuss payment.
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Abuses of Power of Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document which allows you as the “principal” to appoint somebody (referred to as your attorney) who can step in and make financial decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Your appointed attorney has the authority to access your bank accounts, pay bills on your behalf and buy and sell property for you. A power of attorney document is an essential document to consider and most clients will put a power of attorney in place when they are also doing their new will or updating their will documents.

If you do not have a power of attorney document in place and you subsequently do lose capacity then your family members will be stuck with not being able to manage your financial affairs and having to make an application to the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal to seek an appointment of a financial manager on your behalf.
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