New Year’s Resolutions for your organisation and the law ahead for 2018

Welcome to 2018! It is set to be another interesting year ahead, as the Australian Open kicks off this week, we head towards the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, we see the 2018 Commonwealth Games hosted in the Gold Coast, and we await the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. It’s also the year Prince Harry is set to marry actress Meghan Markle, and for the first time in 40 years humans will venture beyond low-earth orbit when for the first time in history, two space tourists fly around the moon in a rocket.

Back to everyday reality, and most have returned to the office after what was no doubt, too short a break. To assist you getting back into the groove, we have identified our top 5 key areas in the law for the year of 2018. Because New Year’s Resolutions can be hard, we have done the hard work for you and laid out a step-by-step plan to help you successfully reach your company’s new year goals.

  1. Privacy Law: From 22 February 2018, changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) will commence. The changes will make it mandatory for organisations covered by the Act to notify affected individuals as well as the Privacy Commissioner when an eligible data breach occurs. These changes are expected to be a key focus for the Privacy Commissioner for the next 12 months.

New Year’s Resolution

Step 1: Ensure your organisation has in place a sound and compliant Privacy Policy, Data Breach Notification Plan and Collection Notice.

Step 2: Ensure your staff know about these policies and how to use them.

  1. Employment: Social media at the start of 2018 centred around the “Times Up” movement after various claims of harassment and bullying in Hollywood and on Australian Broadway. Numerous articles claim that employers were not aware of any “formal” complaints being made. Under Australian law, when it comes to claims of bullying and harassment, there is no distinction between a “formal” and “informal” complaint. The legacy of such reports has also caused massive reputational damage to many employers and organisations as a result of allegations regarding how employers dealt (or failed to deal) with these complaints.

New Year’s Resolution

Step 1: Ensure your organisation has in place adequate policies and procedures which renounce bullying and harassment.

Step 2: Clearly set out the process your organisation will follow in the event a complaint is made.

  1. Intellectual Property: Already this new year, we have seen claims for intellectual property infringement with songwriters of the Australian pop hit “Love is in the Air” suing an American band and Air France for infringing on the copyright of the original song.

 New Year’s Resolution

Step 1: Identify your organisation’s intellectual property and take steps to protect it.

Step 2: Contact our office to assist you in registering your trade marks, advising on any copyright matters, and ensuring your commercial arrangements and contracts clearly protect ownership of your intellectual property rights.

  1. Contracts: Changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) are expected to commence around 1 July 2018. These will prevent one party to a contract terminating the contract because the other party has suffered a particular insolvency event. This will mean that even if the other party to a contract becomes insolvent, you may still be bound by the terms of the contract.

 New Year’s Resolution

Step 1: Review your commercial contracts, particularly the termination clauses regarding when you, or the other party, is permitted to terminate the contract.

Step 2: For any contracts entered into after 1 July 2018, ensure you address how the contract will end other than in the event the other party suffers an insolvency event.

  1. Corporate Governance: Whether you operate as a company, not-for-profit, trust or any other structure, each year your organisation is likely required to comply with certain reporting obligations. We challenge you this year to ensure that your constituent documents are current. Your constituent documents are used to establish your organisation and include:
  2. your constitution;
  3. trust deed; or
  4. partnership agreement.

These documents should reflect how you operate, or want to operate, your organisation and comply with any reporting requirements.

New Year’s Resolution

Step 1: If you are operating a business without a shareholders agreement or partnership agreement, get one stat!

Step 2: Undertake a review of your constitution, trust deed, partnership agreement or other document which establishes how your organisation will be managed and operated and ensure it is current and reflects best practice.

For assistance with implementing any of your legal new year’s resolutions, contact our office at  or on 02 6198 3100 (Canberra) or 03 8691 3168 (Melbourne)

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