Changes to Bannister & von Dadelszen’s Property, Commercial and Personal Services Team

Alan Pierce has left Hawkes Bay, to support his wife Adrienne who is seeking election as an MP representing Palmerston North.  Alan’s assistant Sue Patchett has also relocated to Palmerston North. Alan joined the firm straight out of university and Sue has been with us for almost 20 years, and we will miss both of them.    Partners Jodi Lett and Simon Wilton and the rest of our Property, Commercial and Personal Services Team remain available to provide services to the firm’s clients who have previously dealt with Alan, and we are currently seeking to add qualified lawyers to that Team. Partner Mark von Dadelszen in the Civil Litigation team and lawyers Martin Wall & Jess MacLellan in the Family team are also available. If you would like to make a time for either Jodi or Simon to introduce themselves to you, please call Joan Wootton to make an appointment.  Of course there would not be any charge for that...
Updating (Replacing) the Trustee Act 1956

Updating (Replacing) the Trustee Act 1956

Revamp to 60-year old trust law On 14 November 2016 the Justice Minister, Amy Adams, released draft legislation to update our trust law and improve the administration of trusts. It is important to appreciate that this change will have implications for all trusts; individuals may be most interested in family trusts and trusts established under Wills, but the changes will also affect (in particular) charitable trusts. The Minister highlighted that: Trusts play an important role in New Zealand.  Between 300,000 and 500,000 trusts are operating today.  Every day, ordinary New Zealanders use them to manage their finances, with an estimated 15 per cent of private houses held in a trust.  They also form part of the economic backbone of the commercial and social sectors. Our 60-year old trust law is complex and hard to navigate, partly because it is scattered across the Trustee Act and a variety of decisions made by courts over many years.  That’s why in 2009, the Government asked the Law Commission to have a look at how the laws could be modernised and made clearer. Given their importance to our society and economy, trust law should be simple to understand so that families and businesses can manage their affairs with confidence. The draft Trusts Bill aims to update and improve upon the Trustee Act 1956. The proposed improvements are intended to: Make it easier for people to understand how to use (primarily, family) trusts appropriately to manage their affairs, Set out clear mandatory and default trustee duties so people know what their obligations are if they’re involved in governing or managing any type of trust,...

Business Numbers – What they Mean for You

What is a New Zealand Business Number? The New Zealand Business Number Act 2016 was enacted on 15 April 2016, and most of it came into force in mid-May. A New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique a 13 digit Global Location Number (GLN) assigned to businesses and other entities in New Zealand and usable worldwide. Use of NZBNs is expected to transform how businesses share key information and interact with Government and with each other. Each NZBN is a 13 digit  Global Location Number (GLN). What is the benefit of NZBNs to business? According to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce: “NZBNs are a key initiative of the Government’s Better for Business programme. They are a unique identifiers that reduce the time and energy businesses spend providing government the same information in different ways.” “A change to NZBN information will, over time, change the same information on other databases held by government. Ultimately businesses will only need to tell government their information once.” “For businesses it will save time and cost through reduced form filling and data entry processes, and speed up dealings with government agencies. Once fully implemented, the annual benefits for businesses from the NZBN Programme have been estimated to be around $60 million. In time NZBNs are expected to become the main identifier for businesses to share key information with Government Departments (but will not replace all identifiers across Government – for example, GST or ACC numbers) and other businesses. Ultimately, a change to NZBN information (primary business data) will change the same information on other databases held by Government. NZBNs are intended to enable...
90 day trial periods

90 day trial periods

The recent amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 extend the 90 Day Trial Period to all Employers (previously it was limited to those Employers with 19 Employees or less).  Key points regarding the 90 day trial period:   1.   Basic principle An Employer can dismiss a new Employee within the first 90 days of employment without risk of a personal grievance as a result of that dismissal if the trial period applies.  There can be disqualifying behaviour, and it is unlikely that an Employer can ignore all of the usual obligations. 2.   Exceptions Although a personal grievance may not be brought simply as a result of dismissal, it does not exclude personal grievances for: discrimination for reasons of race, religion, sex, union membership, age or the like, or unjustified actions prejudicing the Employee during the trial period 3.   In Employment Agreement The 90 day trial period will only apply if the Employment Agreement includes a reference to the trial period. In Smith v Stokes Valley Pharmacy (2009) Ltd [2010] the Chief Judge of the Employment Court found that the Employment Agreement containing the trial period must be signed prior to the commencement date of the Employee. A recent Authority decision illustrates that both parties should sign the agreement prior to the commencement date. 4.   New Employees only The trial period provisions only apply to Employees new to the Employer (so does not include returning or existing Employees switching roles). In the Stokes Valley Pharmacy case, because the Employee signed the Employment Agreement the day after she started work she was not regarded as a new Employee. 5.   Notice An Employer must give notice of termination within...
The importance of maintaining workplace relationships

The importance of maintaining workplace relationships

Maintaining happy and healthy workplace relationships may not be something that immediately springs to mind when considering your obligations as an employer. The recent case of Johnston v Board of Trustees of Southern Regional Health School, however, makes clear that allowing workplace disputes to remain unresolved may result in a successful claim for unjustified disadvantage. What happened in that case? Ms Johnston began working at the Southern Regional Health School as an Assistant Principal, and was promoted to Deputy Principal shortly thereafter. Some years later a desire to spend more time with her family led to a renegotiation of her employment contract. She reverted to Assistant Principal, reduced her hours and was permitted to work those hours flexibly and sometimes from home. About a year later, Ms Atchison (Ms Johnston’s colleague) voiced dissatisfaction to the Deputy Principal. Ms Atchison felt that Ms Johnston was unreliable, dishonest and “had a lack of clarity around working responsibilities”. It seems that Ms Johnston was seen as “shirking”. Ms Atchison’s unhappiness increased, and eventually resulted in a written complaint to the employer. The School did not deal with that complaint, but instead incorporated it into another investigation involving a different staff member before it was “put on hold”. Over the coming months Ms Atchison’s dissatisfaction continued, and she made another written complaint about Ms Johnston. This time the complaint was investigated by the School, but unfortunately not resolved. The Employment Relations Authority found that the School had unjustifiably disadvantaged Ms Johnston. How was the employer at fault? The Authority recorded that the “relationship [between Ms Johnston and Ms Atchison] was destroyed, the workplace...
Redundancy: what you need to know

Redundancy: what you need to know

While there is no definition of what constitutes a “redundancy” in the current legislation, it covers the situation where, for instance: An employee’s employment is terminated because the position filled by the employee is, or will become, surplus to the needs of the employer, or Where the position filled by the employee has been significantly altered. It is not a redundancy where employees are simply redeployed or where the name of a position changes, but where employees will perform substantially similar duties. How do you make someone redundant? Redundancy is a termination of employment and as with other terminations, an employee may bring a personal grievance claiming unjustified dismissal. It follows that redundancies must be for genuine reasons, and need to be carried out in a procedurally fair manner (i.e. involving consultation, notice etc.). The test in the current legislation is: “Whether the employer’s actions, and how the employer acted, were what a fair and reasonable employer could have done in all the circumstances at the time the dismissal or action occurred” In terms of genuineness, the Courts have interpreted this as meaning: The focus must be on the position and not the employee occupying the position, Employers must do more than simply claim that it is a genuine business decision, Financial justifications must exist and cannot be flawed, Where there are genuine business reasons but also underlying personality or performance issues, it must be demonstrated that the redundancy was genuine (e.g. by paper trail demonstrating consideration of reorganisation), The normal procedural steps involved in a dismissal should also be taken. For instance: Clauses in the employment agreement (if...