Everyone’s Responsible when it comes to work Christmas parties!

christmas partyWith the festive season already in full swing, it is a great time to attend work parties and other social events during this time.

However, it is also a time for both employer and employee to ensure you are aware of the legal implications that come with being over indulgent and a little too joyous at your work Christmas party.

Staff should be well aware of all policies and procedures that are in place and the consequences that may be incurred in the event that discrimination, workplace bullying and breach of social media arises.

Both employers and employees could be putting the business and their jobs on the line if something was to happen.

Make sure that everyone is playing by the rules and you should all have a great time!

Why do I need CTP insurance?

CTP InsuranceCompulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance is required in Queensland by law, and will assist you in the event that you may be involved in a car accident. You can choose whoever you want your CTP provider to be and can change at any time. CTP insurance will cover you for compensation claims that could be made by another party involved in the accident.  It is important to seek legal assistance if:

  • there is a dispute about damage to property cause by a car accident
  • about who was at fault
  • going to court because you cannot reach an agreement with the others involved
  • you are disputing your claim with your insurer

What is Bankruptcy?

BankruptcyBankruptcy is a legal process when a person cannot repay their debts to creditors. A bankruptcy case may be heard in a Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court but most are heard in the Federal Circuit Court.

The court will declare someone bankrupt if the creditor can prove that that person has committed an act of bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Act.

Failing to follow the instructions set out in a bankruptcy notice is the most common act of bankruptcy. The main instruction in a bankruptcy notice is that the person pays an amount of a judgement debt in the time specified in the notice.

If you disagree to being made bankrupt then you must complete some forms and file them with the court three days before the hearing.

In an article published on news.com.au states that “the number of bankruptcies in Australia has risen in the September quarter by about 13 per cent to 4390”.

For further information about bankruptcy, please contact our lawyers today. 1300 STOLAW or visit our website stolaw.com.au

Preserving the starry skies

Starry SkiesSince the introduction of the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act a few short years ago, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has been overwhelmed by applications being made by home owners to require the reduction or removal of trees on adjoining properties.  More often than not, these applications have been made because trees were causing damage to property, creating a nuisance (by dropping leaves and the like) or obscuring a view.

Where the dispute concerns preservation of a view, as a general rule, QCAT will only order removal or pruning of a tree where it has grown so much since the neighbour acquired their property that a previous view has been lost.  And the significance of a view is not lost on QCAT Members, particularly from the point of view from preserving a property’s value and sale ability.

Recently, a QCAT Member, Dr Bridget Cullen, was called upon to adjudicate a somewhat unusual dispute between some Caloundra residents.  Amongst the trees in issue was a clump of Buddha Bamboo which, the applicant said, obstructed his view of the sky and surrounds.  Apart from a starry sky, it was not suggested that the bamboo was causing any damage to property, was creating a nuisance or obscuring a panorama of any kind.

In refusing the application, Member Cullen thought that a view of the sky was not something which was capable of being protected by the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act as the view that was being sought to be preserved was in no way “iconic”.

And while others may not share my view, I have to admit to being somewhat pleased that the applicant in this case was unsuccessful.  After all, aren’t trees and a bit of vegetation themselves an outlook worthy of protection?

Travis Schultz
Managing Partner
Schultz Toomey O’Brien
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Connect Travis on LinkedIn

Holiday Safety Tips

Now that its school holiday time again, we would like to remind everyone to stay safe on the roads. If you are travelling a long distance by car, make sure to take the required breaks to help you feel refreshed and focused to continue on your journey. The below infographic by Alliance Insurance, provides some great tips for the travelling these holidays.Insurance, provides some great tips for the travelling these holidays.

Road Safety Infographic

Goliath v. Goliath

downloadingThere’s an interesting battle playing out between some global giants and at least for the time being, Australia is their battlefield.

Since the announcement of a law reform review by Federal Attorney-General George Brandis, technology behemoths like Google, Facebook and eBay have launched a vitriolic war in their submissions made against the Attorney-General’s law reform agenda. On the opposite side are the major Hollywood film studios who are pushing for tighter regulation to try to prevent (or more realistically slow down) the high level of piracy of film, video and music content.  Not surprisingly, those creating the valuable content want to protect it from being disseminated free of charge whilst those providing the platforms for the piracy want no responsibility to rest with them.

And it’s not a one-sided argument.  On one view, the high cost of getting the music and video content legally is contributing to the rate of piracy but on the other hand why should society accept intellectual property being stolen simply because its creators put a relatively high price on their work?  What happens to the music and film industries if the world accepts that their work should be stolen from them by internet pirates without repercussion?  But on the other hand, why should the providers of internet platforms be responsible to manage what their customers do with that service or simply put, why should they bear the cost of regulation of the internet for the benefit of film and music producers?

Perhaps the simple answer is we, as a society, must accept that piracy is a crime and treat it accordingly.  But given our surprisingly high rate of illegal downloading, that is probably an overly optimistic proposition!

Product Labelling misleading to customers, picked up by ACCC

Product Labelling MisleadingLast month Maggie Beer, chef and businesswomen of Maggie Beer Products Pty Ltd was given noticed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for misleading its consumers with labelling on four of its top selling products.

The products – extra virgin olive oil, aged red wine vinegar, rosemary and verjuice biscuits and the Maggie Beer ice cream range all display the same logo – a pheasant and text “A Barossa Food Tradition” as it does across all of the products in the Maggie Beer range. However, these four products are actually manufactured in Queensland and Victoria unlike the other products from the Barossa or South Australia.

In an interview by Food Magazine Maggie says, “To rectify the situation Beer will be modifying each label on her entire range which spans over 200 products and will include added information on the State in which each product is made to ensure that there is no way a similar event can be repeated”.

It is very important to ensure that when you are selling a product that you disclose the correct information to your customers.

Local lawyer accidently given oven cleaner to cure hiccups!

A local lawyer from Runaway Bay has made a claim for compensation after her oesophagus and internal organs were burnt at a local restaurant.

Ms Merrifield suffered from hiccups whilst dining at the Point Paradise restaurant on the Gold Coast, when a staff member mistook oven cleaner for vinegar, and offered the oven cleaner to Ms Merrifield as a cure for her hiccups.

Ms Merrifield has since had to undergo 37 operations and is unable to eat solid foods. She has also had to abandon her legal career as a result of her injuries.

You can read more here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2729498/Mother-accidentally-given-oven-cleaner-restaurant-cure-hiccups-oesophagus-completely-destroyed.html

Bankruptcy Legislation Has Teeth

Bankruptcy Legislation Has TeethAt times, the act of going bankrupt can be seen by many as a “soft option” where a person gets into financial difficulty but the recent jailing of a bankrupt by a local District Court judge highlights that the bankruptcy legislation has real teeth for bankrupts who don’t comply with it.

In the case recently before Judge Robertson, an undischarged bankrupt, Wayne Panther, received $275,000.00 from a couple who took the funds from their superannuation retirement fund so they could acquire goods and services from Mr Panther who was a then 49 year old boat builder.  Mr Panther failed to inform the couple that he was in fact an undischarged bankrupt and that they would be handing over a good part of their life savings to a person whose estate was still controlled by a trustee in bankruptcy.

Ultimately, the couple lost their money.  Little did they know that Mr Panther was already on a period of 12 months probation for forging a document.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Robertson observed that this legislation is in place not just to help manage the financial affairs of people who find themselves in a financial predicament but also to protect the public from people who have demonstrated an inability to manage their financial affairs.  In the end result, Mr Panther was sentenced to 19 months of imprisonment.

The lesson for anyone considering bankruptcy is simple – make sure you understand the full consequences of bankruptcy and the restrictions that it will impose on your business activities, before using the process to wipe the financial slate clean.

Travis Schultz
Managing Partner
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Harvey Norman Franchisees Fined for Misleading Customers

Customer at registerHarvey Norman Franchisees have been penalised and ordered by the Federal Court of Australia to pay a total of $60,000 for misleading customers about their consumer guarantee rights. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) bought proceedings against nine Harvey Norman Franchisees which has led to penalties of $234,000.

The allegations made by the ACCC have differed for each franchisee and below are a few examples of what the misrepresentations have included:

  • the franchisee had no obligation to provide a remedy while the relevant product was still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty;
  • the franchisee had no obligation to provide consumers with a choice of remedy if the relevant product was supplied more than three months ago; and
  • the consumer would have to pay a postage and handling fee before the relevant product could be returned from the manufacturer. (Source: Findlaw.com.au, http://www.findlaw.com.au/news/7010/nine-harvey-norman-franchisees-penalised-for-misle.aspx)

All consumers are given a set of rights under The Australian Consumer Law which guarantees all goods purchased after 1st January 2011 guarantees that:

  • goods will be of acceptable quality;
  • goods will be fit for any disclosed purpose;
  • goods will match any description under which it is sold;
  • goods will have spare parts available for a reasonable time; and
  • all express warranties offered will be honoured.

(Source: The Australian Consumer Law, http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/Content.aspx?doc=home.htm)