Covid relief roundup

How many schemes are you eligible under?

Since the pandemic arrived on our shores, the government has made available multiple types of financial relief; more than one may be available to your business. Although applications under the popular Wage Subsidy Scheme ended on 1 September 2020, other options are still available for support if you need it.

Apprentice Support Programme

If your business has an apprentice who is actually training, you may be eligible to receive $1,000/month for first year apprentices and $500/month for second year apprentices. This payment is for a maximum of 20 months from August 2020 to March 2022. Visit here at Work and Income Te Hiranga Tangata to apply.

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OIO temporary emergency notification requirement

For all overseas purchasers

It seems as though the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has been under constant evolution over the last two years. In June, the OIO enacted a change that now requires all overseas purchasers of New Zealand business assets to submit a notification to the OIO before the transaction takes place — regardless of the asset value. This submission will allow the OIO to monitor and prevent New Zealand asset ownership being unnecessarily diluted due to stressed sales caused by unprecedented economic pressures from Covid.

Which transactions does this apply to?

Previously, ‘overseas persons’ who purchased New Zealand business assets valued under $100 million (excluding land), did not have to apply for OIO consent. Under the ‘Emergency Notification’ requirement, however, the OIO must be notified by every overseas person before purchasing any New Zealand business assets — even if the transaction holds minimal value. This includes an increase of shareholding in a business in which the overseas person already holds an interest. The requirement to submit a notification does not extend to purchases that require the consent of the OIO, as the office will already be aware, and have the opportunity to reject, those transactions.

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Relationship property claims

Sign a contracting out agreement

When entering a second or subsequent relationship, it is common to want to keep assets safe from relationship property claims. An effective way to do this can be by transferring assets to a trust. Care needs to be taken, however, to ensure you do this within the law.

A recent case[1] reminds us that transferring assets to trust will generally be ineffective where:

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Trustees’ decisions

Decision-making can be affected by bias

In a recent case[1], trustees’ decision-making came under scrutiny from the High Court.

Lara Unkovich was a young teenager when her grandfather died in 2016, leaving her a share of his estate. Her share was worth around $65,000. Under his will Lara would not receive the funds until she was 21 years old. The trustees, however, had the power to make payments towards her ‘maintenance, education, advancement or benefit.’ The trustees were her aunt Margaret and a lawyer.

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Legal documents signed during lockdown

Best to sign again after lockdown to avoid later complications

During the Covid lockdown, special rules applied to the signing of some legal documents. Obviously it was, and is, not possible to have your signature witnessed by someone outside your bubble in Levels 3 and 4. So the law allowed signing over audio-visual link (AVL) and other similar arrangements. While these documents will remain valid in the future, it may be wise to have wills and enduring powers of attorney (EPAs) signed out of lockdown to avoid any time-consuming queries later on.

Many legal documents need to be signed in a particular way or before a particular person. For example, some documents such as affidavits must be signed in front of a JP or lawyer. As this was, and is, not possible during lockdown, special rules were put in place to enable people to sign documents such as wills, EPAs, affidavits and so on.

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Over the fence

Tougher firearms legislation now in force

The Arms Legislation Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 24 June 2020 and came into force immediately. The legislation imposes tighter controls on the use and possession of firearms. A key change is the introduction of a firearms registry, which will track how many firearms are in legal circulation, who holds them, who is selling them and who is buying them. People holding a firearms licence will be required to update the registry as they buy or sell guns.

Further changes include:

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National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020

Water was the hot topic in the 2017 election campaign. This year, with an election coming up shortly, there seems to have been little talk of water (or much policy at all, so far) with Covid still taking up most of the news space, closely followed by scandals of various sorts.

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (the Freshwater NES), however, are due to be published later this year. Some parts of it will take effect 28 days after it is published while other parts won’t come into effect until the winter of 2021. This year is more than half over, and with the first half of the year being severely disrupted by the Covid lockdown and because the election is looming, there can be no certainty that the new Freshwater NES will be published this year. There is no certainty as to what form it will take, given we may not know which parties will form the government – perhaps sometime in October.

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Rural leases

More on COVID and access issues to land

In the Autumn edition of Rural eSpeaking we discussed the situation that Covid had caused with leases where tenants were unable to access their premises due to lockdown restrictions. Potential issues for the rural leasing sector arose from this problem, particularly given that rural leases are often in a different form to urban commercial property leases.

The article pointed out that the main lease issue due to Covid was the inability of tenants to access their premises. Since we published the Autumn edition, the government has announced that it proposes further changes to the Property Law Act 2007 where it would imply in certain leases a clause similar to that in the latest version of Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) lease, section 27.5, where a tenant has:

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Charities in New Zealand

Charities play an important role in our society to help the disadvantaged, support specific causes or to advance knowledge. In New Zealand we have more than 27,000 registered
charities, with 230,000+ volunteers and 180,000 paid staff [1]. Many of these charities are
structured as trusts which can be incorporated and run as a trust board by the trustees.
Others are structured as incorporated societies or companies, or as unincorporated bodies. These types of charities are run by a board with specific obligations and responsibilities.

The Charities Act 2005 (which is currently under review) regulates the Charities Register and sets out the statutory rules relating to registered charities. Those rules include a re-quirement for registered charities to report, on an annual basis, to Charities Services (a di-vision of the Department of Internal Affairs).

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