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New tax for foreign retailers supplying goods to Australian customers - Feb 2017

Last week legislation was introduced into Parliament which if passed will see many offshore retailers now liable for GST in Australia. Under the proposed measures, GST will be levied against foreign suppliers who sell low value goods (being goods with a customs value of AUD$1,000 or less) into Australia.

The measures are intended to provide competitive neutrality for domestic retailers who have historically been at a disadvantage against foreign retailers selling equivalent goods online to Australian customers exclusive of GST.

If passed, the new measures will take effect from 1 July 2017. The amendments will coincide with the introduction of GST on inbound intangibles (i.e. the ‘Netflix tax’) also due to commence on 1 July 2017. 

Will Fennell, Special Counsel, provides a summary of the proposed measures.

‘Unfair Contracts’ – How will the new law affect your Business? - Oct 2016

The Australian Consumer Law contained within the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (ACL) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act) provide protection to consumers from unfair contract terms in certain business-to-consumer transactions.

The Federal Government has now extended such protection to small businesses in certain business-to-business transactions through the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Act 2015 which amends the ACL and the ASIC Act.

Bulk Water Rights - What do they entail? - Sep 2016

20 years ago, water rights was not a topic commonly contemplated as being something  people would have taken seriously from a transactional and trading point of view.  As water law in Australia is becoming significantly more complicated, it is a necessary evil that people appoint the correct advisors to review documentation and provide advice on water law. Senior Associate, Kara Pennisi provides some insight.

Companies take note - Australia raises its Anti-Bribery Compliance & Enforcement Game - Mar 2016

After broad international and domestic criticism of its efforts, the Australian Government is now showing an appetite for significant reform in the area of foreign bribery. The recent resignation of ASX Chief Executive Elmer Funke Kupper highlights reputational risks arising from allegations of questionable transactions off-shore. With proposed changes to the law the subject of a discussion paper issued by Justice Minister Keenan last week, those risks look set to escalate. Partner, Ted Williams discusses.

Taxation Bill to encourage innovation and investment in early stage companies released - Mar 2016

On Wednesday 16 March 2016, the Tax Laws Amendment (Tax Incentives for Innovation) Bill 2016 (Bill) was introduced into Parliament. The Bill is part of the Government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, containing proposed tax incentives for early stage investors and for venture capital investment.

The Government has consulted widely with investors, industry bodies, universities and the start-up community during the development of the Bill through the Tax Incentives for Early Stage Investors Policy Discussion Paper (see article: Defining criteria for tax incentives for early stage investors). However, notably, there was no public consultation process on exposure draft legislation. The acceleration echoes the intention to implement the measures with effect from 1 July 2016. 

Partner, David Cornwell, Partner, Alan Jessup, and Senior Associate, Kimberley Levi discuss the key aspects of the Bill.

New Regulations for Crowd funding Start-Ups, Investors and Platforms - Feb 2016

On February 10 2016 the Corporations Amendment (Crowd-Sourced Funding) Bill 2015 passed the House of Representatives. Before the Senate votes upon this Bill, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee was due to report on the Bill on 22 February 2016, and will hold a public hearing today, 23 February 2016.

Once that Bill is passed, the Corporations Amendment (Crowd-Sourced Funding) Regulation 2015 (Cth) will likely be registered. Partner, David Cornwell and Law Clerk, James Lowrey outline the requirements imposed by the proposed Regulations on crowd funding platforms, investors and companies.

Defining criteria for tax incentives for early stage investors - Feb 2016

As part of the Government’s National Innovation Agenda, the Government released a Policy Discussion Paper on proposed tax incentives for early stage investors. This gives some guidance on how the incentives will work.

To encourage early stage investment into innovative Australian companies, the tax incentive will provide investors with the benefit of a non-refundable tax offset and a capital gains tax exemption on investments that meet certain eligibility criteria. 

The availability of the tax incentive will depend on various critical qualifying definitions. These definitions are considered in the Policy Discussion Paper.  Partner, David Cornwell and Senior Associate, Kimberley Levi discuss the Policy Discussion Paper.

Drone Regulation – Australia lags behind US - Dec 2015

On 15 December the US Federal Aviation Administration released an ‘Interim Final Rule’ providing for new registration and marking requirements for hobby and recreational drones. The rule came into effect on 21 December 2015, providing a web-based process for US citizens to register drones heavier than half a pound and less than 55 pounds.

This development in US drone regulations is in comparison to silence from The Civil Aviation Safety Authority, suggesting it was due to develop new drone regulations to go before Parliament by the end of 2016. It appears that deadline is not achieved.

Partner, David Cornwell and Law Clerk, James Lowrey compare the new US regulation and the current Australian position.

Safe harbours for startups and other directors - Dec 2015

On 7 December 2015, the Federal Government released the National Innovation and Science Agenda, delivering a range of new initiatives. Among the key focus areas, the Government highlighted insolvency law as a primary area overdue for reform. Whilst not introducing wholesale reforms to mimic the United States ‘Chapter 11’ framework, the targeted reforms seek to eliminate the stigma associated with business failure. Partner David Cornwell, Special Counsel Dr Malcolm Quirey and Law Clerk James Lowrey explore the promise these measures hold for Australian startups and early stage companies.

Signature Innovation and Science Agenda Launched - Dec 2015

The Prime Minister (and a plethora of Ministers) announced the Government’s signature National Innovation and Science Agenda, earlier today. It reverses the earlier deep cuts in Government funding for research and development in the most recent Budget.

The measures announced are far reaching, but we await much of the detail.

The key areas provided for in the new policy are explained below by Partners, David Cornwell, James Lawrence, Tim O’Callaghan and Tim Clark from the firm’s national Corporate and Intellectual Property & Technology Practices.

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