Adapting the agreements can help property developers

Helps mitigate risk

There has been recent media attention on the way property development contracts are structured following the cancellation of a number of Agreements for Sale and Purchase by the developers of a project in Tawa, just north of Wellington. Reportedly, the developers said that without being able to cancel the existing agreements, the companies establishing the development would have otherwise faced liquidation and the development would have been halted.

In this article we look at how agreements can be adapted to suit the specific characteristics of a property development and how they can help mitigate the risks (and costs) to developers. As well, we address some of the questions you should ask to determine where the risks and burdens of the development will fall.

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Claims on an estate

How much can a disinherited child expect?

The Family Protection Act 1955 allows children to bring claims against the estate of a deceased parent on the basis that their parent did not adequately provide for their ‘proper maintenance and support’. Exactly what constitutes ‘proper maintenance and support’ is the subject of considerable litigation, as well as extensive commentary in the media.

Since a trio of Court of Appeal decisions in the early 2000s, a general understanding has emerged that awards under the family protection legislation can be quantified by referring to a percentage of the relevant estate. It has long been said that a financially-stable adult child might expect to receive between 10%–20% of the estate of their deceased parent, depending on a number of factors including the size of the estate and the position of others under the will or those people who are entitled to make a claim. In many cases, the 10%–20% threshold has become an informal benchmark when assessing the position of a financially-stable adult child making a claim against a modest, but not insignificant, estate. Continue reading “Claims on an estate”

Enduring powers of attorney

How many people should you name as attorneys?

In previous articles, we have explained why it is important to have an enduring power of attorney (EPA) and the problems that can be created if you do not have one when the need arises. You should have two EPAs – one for property, and the other for personal care and welfare.

EPA

In your EPA, you should also take care to name appropriate people as your attorneys. Ideally you should name two people to manage your property, which also includes your finances and investments.

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Succession law in New Zealand

Law Commission to review conflicting inheritance laws

In late 2019 the Law Commission reported back to the government on its review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (PRA). Discussion on Part 8 of the PRA that deals with the division of relationship property on the death of a spouse or partner was specifically excluded from the scope of that review.

Acknowledging the issues that could arise by not addressing the division of property when a spouse/partner dies, in December last year the government asked the Law Commission to review the law of succession – that is, the law that governs who inherits a person’s property when they die.

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Business briefs

Mānuka honey trade mark disputes

An ongoing dispute for the MANUKA HONEY trade mark demonstrates the importance of identifying your intellectual property (IP) and protecting that IP in the markets in which you trade.

The Mānuka Honey Appellation Society (MHAS) in New Zealand has applied to register a certification trade mark for MANUKA HONEY, which would limit the use of the term ‘Mānuka Honey’ in New Zealand to strictly New Zealand-based products[3].

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Restructuring your business

Consultation is key

New year, new you – new business structure? Restructuring is common in the new year when business owners feel refreshed and ready to take on the next challenge. The process however, is often shrouded in uncertainty (and stress) for employees.

Following the correct procedure for a restructure will allow your employees time to feel heard and to ensure decisions are made in good faith. They need to know your plans so they can ask the right questions and get the required support during a restructuring process.

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Shareholdings for employees or family members

Rewarding value and increasing engagement

Bringing a key employee or a family member into your business by offering them a shareholding can be a powerful motivator and a significant indicator of how much you value their contributions to your success. However, the process should be done carefully with a robust shareholders’ agreement and company constitution, as there are many facets of the company-shareholder relationship that must be agreed upon to ensure a harmonious future between yourself and the new shareholders.

The circle of trust

First and foremost, your shareholders should be people whose values are aligned with those of your business. Even if they are minority shareholders, there are circumstances in which you will have to rely on their good judgement. The easiest way to prevent disagreements down the road is to carefully consider their business sense, character and propensity for confrontation before embarking on shareholder discussions.

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On-farm emissions reduction

Five-year joint action plan launched

On 24 October 2019 the primary sector launched the ‘Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment: He Waka Eke Noa – our future in our hands to manage agricultural emissions.’

He Waka Eke Noa kicks off a collaborative five-year joint action plan between the agriculture sector, the government and iwi with the target of decreasing farming emissions and developing a farm emissions pricing scheme. If the action plan produces satisfactory results, agriculture will not be brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) under the proposed Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill.

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Action Plan for Healthy Waterways

Government’s proposal to clean up waterways

Water quality is no new issue in Aotearoa New Zealand, but it is a growing one. On 31 October 2019, the government closed submissions on the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways. The Plan has since been referred to an independent advisory panel that will consider the public’s submissions and report back to the government. The panel consists of five members with expertise in a range of areas including dairy farming, environmental law, hydrology and water management.

Introducing the Plan, Environment Minister, David Parker spoke of the loss of New Zealand’s once-swimmable rivers and lakes. Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and for Rural Communities, commended the effort made by farmers to date:

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Trusts Act 2019

Comes into force early 2021

The Trusts Act 2019 will come into effect on 30 January 2021. Much of the Act updates or restates existing law.  However, there are a number of changes about which trustees and people with trusts should be aware.

Trustees’ duties

The Act contains ‘mandatory’ and ‘default’ duties for trustees. Mandatory duties cannot be modified or excluded by the trust deed so all trustees will have to observe them. Mandatory duties are: Continue reading “Trusts Act 2019”