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NSW: Land Tax Relief and new COVID-19 Leasing Regulations

The NSW Government has reintroduced COVID-19 leasing regulations and announced new land tax concessions for landlords who provide rent relief to eligible tenants.

Land Tax Relief

Landlords who provide rent relief (ie, a waiver not a deferral of rent) to eligible tenants between 1 July 2021 – 31 December 2021 will be entitled to a reduction in their land tax payable for the 2021 land tax year.

The amount of the land tax reduction will be the lesser of:

  • the amount of rent reduction provided to an eligible tenant for any period between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021; or
  • 100% of the land tax attributable to the parcel of land leased to that tenant.

To be “eligible” the tenant must

  • occupy land in NSW under a retail or commercial lease;
  • have an annual turnover for the 2020–2021 financial year of less than $50 million (including the turnover of any corporate group which the tenant is a member of); and
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GREATER SYDNEY’S 2021 LOCKDOWN: WILL BUSINESSES SINK OR SWIM?

By Anica Cunanan, Solicitor at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Greater Sydney is currently in a lockdown and has remained in the dark with respect to whether, and when businesses would receive some relief.

Last year, the Federal Government introduced the JobKeeper scheme to assist with keeping businesses afloat (including employees within those businesses) through of the payment of wage subsidies subject to certain criteria.

The Morrison and Berejiklian Governments have announced that NSW businesses will finally receive some relief as we enter the fourth week of lockdown in NSW. It is evident that regardless of whether lockdown is in fact extended past 30 July 2021, businesses have already experienced a substantial hit. Should lockdown continue to be extended, we may see plenty of businesses struggling to make it through this lockdown.

On 13 July 2021, The Premier, Treasurer released some information regarding the new NSW COVID-19 support package, including the following:
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Laws for the Paws

Introduction

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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Bankruptcy reform: a vaccine for the economy?

By Andrew Hack, Solicitor, and Stephen Mullette, Principal, of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

Countries around the world have commenced their vaccine programs, with Australia’s vaccine expected to commence imminently once the TGA completes its approval process. As to the economic impacts of COVID-19, the Australian Government has been testing its own form of vaccine through legislative changes to corporate insolvency and bankruptcy laws.

In March 2020, the Australian Government enacted a number of changes to corporate insolvency and bankruptcy laws, seeking to address the economic impact of the coronavirus. The significant changes to bankruptcy laws included:

  1. An increase in the cap on issuing bankruptcy notices from $5,000 to $20,000; and
  2. An increase in the period for compliance with a bankruptcy notice from 21 days to 6 months.

Both of these changes were made by providing definitions determined through Regulations, which means that they are able to be adjusted from time to time by the Executive. Previously those amounts were hard-coded in the Bankruptcy Act and could only be changed through Parliament.
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Is COVID-19 a reasonable excuse to withhold a child from a parent? A Family Law Lawyers Answer

A common question asked of family law lawyers is: “do I have to continue complying with parenting Orders during the pandemic?

There are very limited circumstances in which the Court will permit parents to fail to comply with Orders of the Court.

Parents will need to establish that there is a reasonable excuse for not complying. Whether the action or conduct is needed and necessary to protect the child from harm should be considered.

In a recent case of Pandell & Walburg (No 2) the Court considered the circumstances of  COVID-19 and how it relates to the consideration of whether a parent has a reasonable excuse not to comply.

In this matter, although interim parenting Orders provided for the father to spend time with the child, the mother had been withholding the child for approximately 3 months. The father’s family law lawyers filed an urgent application for time to resume and for make-up time. During the hearing, the mother claimed that she had received advice from the child’s GP that as a result of a pre-existing health condition, the child was at greater risk of suffering an adverse reaction to a possible COVID-19 infection and she should self-isolate with the child.
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The Move to an Online Family Court: How Covid-19 has Influenced the Way Divorce Lawyers Represent their Clients

The prevalence of Covid-19, the coronavirus, has catapulted the Family Courts into rapid digital transformation. At first, the Courts began to switch from face-to-face court events to telephone conferences on a dial in basis. By the beginning of April, the Courts began to conduct Hearings by Microsoft Teams, a program that allows video conferencing so that parties, their divorce lawyers and judicial officers may all see each other in a “virtual courtroom”.

Alongside the transition to online Court hearings was the introduction of the Digital Court File. Previously, parties and their divorce lawyers had the option to file court documents in hard copy, particularly if the matter was urgent. This system proved challenging during the pandemic particularly for Judges and Registrars operating from remote locations. To allow matters to be heard in any location during the pandemic, every new Court file is now completely electronic and able to be downloaded using the Court portal.
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Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls – COVID-19 Safe Harbour is (still) not Safe

The temporary safe harbour protection from director liability for insolvent trading expires on 31 December 2020. However the Government has not corrected a critical timing issue which exists in the COVD-19 safe harbour legislation. This means directors must appoint an external administrator to their company on or before 31 December 2020, if they wish to take advantage of the COVID-19 safe harbour protection from insolvent trading .

The temporary protection is found in section 588GAAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). There has been some recent debate about whether the words “before any appointment during that period” of an external administrator, mean what they appear to say, namely that any appointment must take place “during that period” of the temporary safe harbour expires.

Our Stephen Mullette has recently responded to the alternative view – that an appointment can be delayed until the new year. Unfortunately, the conclusion is that the better view is still that to take advantage of  the safe harbour defence, the directors must have appointed an external administrator before 1 January 2021. You can read the further consideration here, and make up your own mind.
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Overlapping responsibilities in Condition of consents for music festivals

The entertainment and live music industry has undoubtedly taken the biggest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. To grapple with the economic fallout, the Federal Government announced a $250 million targeted package to help restart the creative, entertainment, arts and screen sectors.

As event organisers slowly formulate management plans, local councils will undoubtedly play a significant role to consult with other agencies to ensure a COVID-safe environment. The following case of NSW Commissioner of Police v Rabbits Eat Lettuce Pty Ltd [2019] NSWCA 182 is relevant as it demonstrates the complexities of having a condition of consent that involves multiple local agencies.

Background

In 2015, the Richmond Valley Council granted the applicant, Rabbits Eats Lettuce Pty Ltd (REL), temporary development consent to hold music festivals in Koppenduff (the Consent).

One of the conditions, which the Court found was unusual, stated:

Condition 7

 An event must not proceed if either New South Wales Police, New South Wales Rural Fire Service or Richmond Valley Council advises it is unsafe to do so.
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