Privacy in the Workplace

What’s yours is mine?

In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent, it’s easy to feel that privacy rights are a thing of the past.

During the recent election campaign, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters accused government officials of breaching his privacy by leaking information to the media regarding errors in his superannuation payments. This created an uproar and, as yet, it’s not clear how the information was provided to the media. Not all privacy breaches are so high profile but they are becoming increasingly common given developments in technology and social media. Considering the numerous forms of communication we have now, there are many ways that information can be disseminated.

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Ageing Trustees

Know when to walk away

When Barack Obama was US president, he made an historic visit to Africa. One of the messages he repeated was that, under the US Constitution, he could only be president for eight years and this time limit is generally a good thing.

Obama was, of course, making an indirect reference to the tendency in some African countries for leaders to have themselves declared to be president for life. This, in Obama’s view, was not only unhealthy but also an excessive burden for one person to bear for too long.

Something similar could be said of some trustees. No one should want to be trustee for life. It’s useful for trustees to think about a succession plan: which trustees should we expect to retire or be replaced and who are the likely replacement trustees? Sometimes, likely future trustees are asked to sit in on trustee meetings to understand how the trust runs. (We have an article about the process for retiring trustees here.)

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Retiring as a Trustee?

There’s a process that should avoid any problems down the line

Many people agree to act as trustees of trusts set up by friends or relatives on the basis that they wish to help out or assist their friend or relative in some way. Eventually it comes time to retire as trustee for reasons such as age, the winding up of the trust or other changes of circumstance.

Retiring as a trustee is not as simple as it sounds and there are a number of potential liabilities that need to be covered off.

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Trusts Bill

Deals with practical issues

The long-awaited Trusts Bill was introduced to Parliament on 1 August 2017. The Bill is largely an update and restatement of the Trustee Act 1956 and the common law. However, it also deals with practical issues that have faced lawyers and trustees for some years. We outline some of the most important parts of the Bill.

‘Express trust’ defined

An ‘express trust’ is defined in the Bill. The definition makes it clear that trust property is separate from a trustee’s personal property, it must be administered in accordance with the trustee’s obligations in the trust deed, and that trustees will be accountable to beneficiaries for their compliance with the duties imposed on them by the trust deed and by law.

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Business Briefs

Security cameras – When does surveillance become an invasion of privacy?

The use of closed circuit television (CCTV) and/or security cameras are useful security tools for businesses to deter unwanted behaviour and identify wrongdoers. When you’re deciding whether to install and use CCTV and/or security cameras to protect your business, you must be aware of your obligations under the Privacy Act 1993.

The Act contains 12 privacy principles around the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Personal information must be collected and used for lawful purposes, and usually can’t be disclosed to third parties without that person’s consent. To find out more about the 12 privacy principles, go here.

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How to Recover Undisputed Debts

When the court makes a decision that an individual or business is owed a debt, it issues a judgment order telling the debtor that they must pay the creditor. However, often creditors are left wondering what happens if the debtor doesn’t pay. Find out how the court can assist you in recovering an undisputed civil debt.

Collecting civil debt

The process of collecting civil debt if the debtor doesn’t pay is called ‘civil enforcement’. A creditor can only initiate civil enforcement where a court or tribunal has ordered a debtor to pay a civil debt. The court doesn’t enforce judgement orders automatically; a creditor must select the appropriate enforcement actions and manage the process independently, or with the assistance of a lawyer. When you make an enforcement application, you can claim interest on civil debt that’s more than $3,000. If your order is more than six years old, you may need the court’s approval before taking enforcement action.

You must know a debtor’s correct address before the court can take some enforcement actions on your behalf. If you don’t have the debtor’s address, you can:

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FATCA

Many New Zealand businesses and trusts must complete registration and understand their reporting obligations.

With the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) regime now in effect, it’s important that all New Zealand entities ensure they are aware of their obligations.

FATCA came into effect in New Zealand on 1 July 2014 – with little fanfare at the time. From 1 April 2017, however, the compliance obligations of the FATCA regime are now live. The FATCA regime classifies all entities (companies, trusts, associations and partnerships) as either a ‘financial institution’, an ‘active non-financial foreign entity’ (active NFFE) or a ‘passive non-financial foreign entity’ (passive NFFE).

The reason for FATCA

The ultimate goal of the FATCA regime is to find US offshore persons or entities who have been avoiding their US tax obligations. This is done by gathering information on any US persons or entities controlled by US persons holding accounts outside of the US.

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Over the Fence

Health and safety legislation sentencings expected

There are a number of developments in health and safety expected later this year. These include the first sentencings under the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 that are due to be released. As well, WorkSafe is expected to launch its Health and Safety Improvement Performance Toolkit. We will continue to monitor this and update you in the next edition of Rural eSpeaking due in summer.

 

Judgements of rural interest

Farmers unsuccessful in their claim against rural contractor

In May this year the High Court released its judgement in the case of A P and A W Hughes Limited v Lyall.[1] In 2014 Allan Lyall was contracted by A P and A W Hughes Limited to harvest a pea and barley crop for silage. When the silage was opened for feeding, which was three months after harvest, it was found to be in poor condition. The farmers attempted to sue the contractor for $300,000 worth of damage to the silage crop seeking compensation for the loss of winter feed.

The High Court found that the contractor used the skills expected of a reasonably competent silage contractor to implement the fall-back option of cut rake and chop that was agreed to by the farmers at the time of harvest. Despite this, soil was still incorporated in the silage by this process resulting in a loss of silage quality. The judge found the silage was poor quality because the crop was over-matured when it was harvested and this was not the contractor’s fault; it was simply the consequence of adopting an option agreed to by the parties to address the circumstances.

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Fire Hazards

Look after your property

Four years ago we published an article about the risk of fire in the rural sector and the consequences of not holding appropriate insurance cover (Rural eSpeaking, Issue 12, Winter–Spring 2013). The number of rural fires throughout the country seems to be increasing each year.

Gisborne fire

Recently Stuff reported on a case in Gisborne[1] where the Gisborne District Council was found by a judge to have acted negligently by “failing to address a fire hazard on its block of land” when a fire began on the land and caused damage to the neighbouring sawmill owned by Double J Smallwoods Limited. The judge ordered the council to pay Double J Smallwoods’ owners more than $875,000 in damages for the loss caused by the fire, which had occurred some seven years before.

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‘Nuptial Settlements’

Have I made one?

The law around trusts is ever-changing particularly with relationship property and matrimonial issues. The courts continue to chip away at the trust as an appropriate vehicle to protect assets against a relationship breakup.

The Clayton case

One area of this changing environment that will be of interest to the rural community is a consequence of some judicial reasoning in the Clayton v Clayton[1] case. There will be particular interest in the comments made in relation to ‘nuptial settlements’ and s182 of the Family Proceedings Act 1980.

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