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Changes to Retail Leases Act

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Business Sale & Purchase News, Commercial Agreements & Disputes News, Conveyancing News, Leases News, Litigation News, News |

The Retail Leases Act 1994 applies to most retail shop leases in NSW. Amending legislation, which commenced on 1 July 2017, introduces significant reforms including the following changes: * The requirement that a retail lease must be for a minimum of 5 years has been removed so that there is now no minimum term. * A lessee will now have a right to compensation where the the lessee terminates the lease inside the first 6 months for a failure by the lessor to give the lessee a Lessor’s Disclosure Statement or if the lessor gives one that is incomplete, false or misleading. * A lessor must return a bank guarantee to a lessee within 2 months of the lessee complying with its obligations under the lease. * A retail lease must be registered within 3 months of the executed lease being returned to lessor by the lessee. * A lessee will not be liable to pay a particular outgoing under the lease unless that outgoing was disclosed in the Lessor’s Disclosure Statement. Also, if the lessor had no reasonable basis for a particular outgoing estimate the lessee is only obliged to pay the amount of the estimate and nothing more. * A Lessor’s Disclosure Statement, which has to be provided by the lessor to the lessee 7 days before the lease is entered into, can now be amended if the parties agree in writing rather than the lessor having to issue a new document and the parties having to wait another 7 days. * The monetary jurisdiction of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal with regard to retail lease disputes is increased from $400,000.00 to $750,000.00. * Penalty notices for failure to comply with the Act can now be issued. The main message is that greater care must now be taken to ensure that a Lessor’s Disclosure Statement is accurate otherwise: (a) a lessee may not only be entitled to terminate the lease in the first 6 months but also substantial compensation including the cost of a fit-out and legal fees; and (b) a lessor may not be able to recover all outgoings in full if those referred to in the lease are not disclosed or the estimates are not reasonably based. Compliance with the Retail Leases Act will also be important to avoid receiving a penalty...

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New Unfair Contract Protections for Small Business

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Business Sale & Purchase News, Commercial Agreements & Disputes News, Conveyancing News, Leases News, Litigation News, News |

The Federal Government recently passed legislation amending the Australian Consumer Law and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission Act so that it will extend protections to small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts with other parties as from 12 November 2016. A standard form contract is one pre-prepared by one party to the contract and where the other party is given no real opportunity to negotiate its terms. The protections will apply in favour of small businesses (i.e. one employing less than 20 people) where it is offered a standard form contract by another party for: * the supply of goods and services * the sale or granting of an interest in land (including a lease) * the supply of financial products and services In order to obtain the protections the upfront price payable under the contract must be no more than $300,000.00 or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months. Under the protections any unfair term in a standard form contract will be void and therefore not be binding on the small business. Examples of terms that may be unfair include: * terms that enable only one party to avoid or limit their obligations under the contract * terms that enable only one party to terminate the contract * terms that penalise only one party for breaching or terminating the contract * terms that enable only one party to vary the terms of the contract In order to determine whether a term is unfair an application would have to be made to an appropriate tribunal or court. However, just the threat of making such an application may resolve the dispute with the other party. It is important to note that the unfair contract protections apply to small businesses whether they are the acquirer of goods and services etc. or the supplier. This means that if a small business offers a standard form contract to another small business that other business can claim the unfair contract terms protections. All small businesses must now consider reviewing all standard form contracts with other parties due to commence, renew or be varied from 12 November 2016 to determine whether any of the terms are possibly unfair and need amendment so as to not to offend the new regime. November...

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