This month in the law – November 2017
We may be approaching the end of 2017, but Parliament is sitting for one more week and the Courts don’t rise until 21 December, so there’s plenty of time left for new developments yet. While the hype has focused on the same-sex marriage plebiscite, a number of foreign parliamentarians, and the new Royal Commission into the banking industry, there’s been plenty else happening that will interest your clients.
Here’s our wrap up of the recent developments in Australian law that you may want to tell your clients about. If you’re running short of time or don’t know where to start, get in touch. We’d be happy to prepare a newsletter for your firm or write a post for your blog that you can share with them.
The Federal government has introduced a bill that is designed to encourage and protect whistleblowers who disclose any tax wrongdoings to the ATO. When passed, the legislation will come into effect from 1 July 2018.
Relevant to: Every business as whistleblowers can be employees, officers and potentially external parties.
Competition and Consumer
The ACCC has issued a stern warning to all clothing retailers to check their consumer guarantees – this year alone they have received over 750 complaints and are currently in discussions with 12 retailers. Coming up to the peak Christmas period it’s particularly important for businesses to review their return, refund and replacement guarantees and ensure they’re not misleading.
Relevant to: Any retail clothing business, either on-premise or online.
Technology, Media and Communications
The NBN is taking up a lot of attention, with the ACCC investigating Telstra for advertising high internet speeds it couldn’t deliver. The industry watchdog has also said it will investigate other providers to ensure that the speeds promised are being delivered.
Relevant to: Internet providers and consumer clients looking for compensation.
For the first time, the Federal Court has imposed a civil penalty on a financial services licensee for breaching its best interests duty. The penalty was $1million and came with a stern warning to licensees to implement robust auditing and monitoring processes to reduce the potential for a breach.
Relevant to: Any business that holds an AFS licence.
The model Work Health and Safety laws, which were drafted in 2009 and implemented by various States and Territories in 2012 and 2013 (with the exceptions of Victoria and Western Australia) are up for review in 2018. They’ll be calling for public consultation as early as January 2018.
Relevant to: Law firms who want to make a submission, affected businesses and employees.
Privacy and Data Protection
The European Union is taking steps to regulate data protection, with the General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect in May 2018. Any Australian business processing personal data through an EU business, or in the course of offering goods or services to EU residents will be affected by the Regulation.
Relevant to: Any company doing business within the EU or with EU residents.