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“Agreement in principle” – is it binding?

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

When you’re negotiating the terms of a contract, settlement or payment arrangement, you might hear the term “agreement in principle”.  The obvious questions are:

  1. What does it mean?
  2. If you agree “in principle” to a person’s offer, or that person agrees “in principle” to your offer, can the agreement be enforced?

These are questions that are considered in numerous cases and various situations. The Courts have historically considered such cases in the context of different categories of agreement based on the decision in Masters v. Cameron. Recently the Supreme Court of New South Wales looked at these questions again in the matter of P J Leahy & Ors v A R Hill & Anor [2018] NSWSC 6. In this matter, Mr Leahy (and his related parties) commenced proceedings against Mr and Mrs Hill to recover an amount he claimed was due for repairs to a shed and arrears under a licence agreement.
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FWO flags review of abandonment clauses in Awards

The Fair Work Commission has indicated that it will conduct a review of abandonment clauses contained in six modern awards, following the decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission in Benias v Iplex Pipelines Australia Pty Ltd [2017] FWCFB 38.

In the decision, the Full Bench overturned the decision of Senior Deputy President O’Callaghan ([2016] FWC 6624), who dismissed an employee’s unfair dismissal claim on the basis that the termination was not at the initiative of the employer.

The facts

Section 386 of the Fair Work Act 2009 defines a dismissal as a termination of employment ‘on the employer’s initiative’. The Act provides that where an employee’s employment is not terminated on the employer’s initiative (i.e. a voluntary resignation), that employee is unable to pursue a remedy for Unfair Dismissal.

The employee in question had failed to show up for his shifts for a fortnight without explanation, leading the employer to conclude that the employee had abandoned his employment. The employer relied upon a clause in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010 (‘the Manufacturing Award’), which provides:
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Loaning money? Don’t rely on a handshake – you need a Loan Agreement

Whether you are making a loan of money for business or personal purposes it is important to document your agreement with the borrower. This should set out how much has been loaned, repayment procedure, interest payable and the length of the loan period.

If the loan is for a large amount of money, it may require a security or guarantee document to provide the lender with further protection.

Matthews Folbigg Lawyers in Parramatta can assist in drafting loan agreements and associated documentation. Contact our commercial law team for more information.

Phillip Brophy – phillipb@matthewsfolbigg.com.au or 9635 7966