Allion Partners advises Australian Mines Limited on $15M capital raising for Sconi project

Paul Sartori’s team at Allion Partners (Perth, Mining law) has advised on a major capital raising by Australian Mines Limited. 

Allion Partners reports that it was recently retained by Australian Mines Limited on its AU$15 million capital raising for its Sconi Cobalt-Nickel-Scandium Project in North Queensland.

The raising involved a fully underwritten share purchase plan for existing shareholders up to AU$5 million, together with a further placement for other investors. Allion Partners, which is based in Perth and is well-regarded in the mining and resources space, has a long-standing relationship with Australian Mines Limited.

Paul Sartori, Partner at Allion, said “the capital raising was conducted within an expedited timeframe, working closely with the underwriter, Patersons Securities. Having acted on numerous matters for this long-standing client (including its spin-out and ASX listing of Norwest Gold Limited at the end of last year), we are very pleased to have concluded another successful transaction for Australian Mines and we look forward to continuing this relationship as the Company advances its projects.”

Mr Sartori has considerable experience in deal structuring, both within and beyond the resources industry.

Alistair Talbert joins Tottle Partners as Special Counsel

Alistair Talbert, a seasoned employment law expert, has joined Perth law firm Tottle Partners as Special Counsel. The appointment is effective from January 2019. Talbert joins Tottle Partners from Sparke Helmore, reports Australasian Lawyer.

Tottle Partners has an established reputation in dispute resolution and construction industry work. Alistair Talbert’s addition to the firm complements Tottle’s offering for business clients.

“Alistair’s arrival enables us to expand on the services we provide to our clients to now include employment, industrial relations and occupational health and safety. His expertise and pragmatic approach to solving client’s workplace issues makes him an important addition to our senior team of lawyers at Tottles,” Australasian Lawyer reports managing partner Stephen Penrose as saying.

Alistair Talbert previously worked with Australia Post and has held a variety of legal roles. He is a regular speaker on employment, work health and workplace safety issues. Among other topics, Mr Talbert has addressed the Australian chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel on workplace bullying.

So, should you talk to the police?

plights
Think twice before you say anything to a member of the police force.

We look at the right to silence under Western Australian law and how you should deal with questions from the police.

It is a question people often ask. So, should you talk to the police? The answer, according to experienced Perth criminal lawyer Max Crispe, is always “no”.

“It is well known among Perth criminal lawyers that Police will use techniques that are completely legal to obtain information from a suspect, that includes engaging you in social conversation to break the ice and to get you talking”, says Mr Crispe.

While you may think that not saying anything puts you in a bad light, Mr Crispe cautions members of the public to “put that completely out of your mind”. The right to silence means that a court cannot draw an inference from your failure to speak with police.

“If the Police believe you are guilty it is not in your interest to try and convince them otherwise. They intend to charge you anyway.” Max Crispe, Max Crispe Barristers & Solicitors

If it’s necessary to talk to them later on, your lawyer can arrange that and with the appropriate safeguards.

Practical tips

So what should you do when approached by the police?

You must only provide your name, date of birth and address.

To all other questions, you should reply “I do not wish to say anything and I wish to get legal advice”, says Mr Crispe. If you are in a room with a video recorder, you should say “I do not wish to say anything. I wish to get legal advice and I wish the camera to be switched off”.

It is important not to be tricked. Police might ask “is English your first language?” or tell you “don’t you want to hear what the allegation is?”. Mr Crispe advises that it does not matter what is the question is, “the answer you should give is the same”.

While there is no magic formula, you should be adamant in your refusal to speak. You can, however, say “I’ve done nothing wrong I don’t wish to say anything. I wish to get legal advice and I wish the camera to be switched off”.

If they do charge you, simply say afterwards “I do not wish to say anything and please turn the camera off.”

The only exception is in traffic cases, where in addition to your name, date of birth and address, you should indicate whether or not you were the driver of the vehicle. For example, just say “I was the driver”. You do not need to say anything else.

Max Crispe and Kate Crispe are key contacts at Max Crispe Barristers & Solicitors, based in Subiaco, Perth. The firm advises on all criminal and related court matters.

For more information, and for emergency contact details, please visit the firm’s profile or visit their website at maxcrispelawyer.com.au.

This article has been derived from useful material published on Max Crispe Barristers & Solicitors’ website. The information therein is not intended to be legal advice and  is reproduced for informational purposes only. Seek your own legal advice. 

Bitcoin’s GST status resolved from 1 July 2017

Come 1 July 2017, businesses that transact in Bitcoin will be relieved by a change in the cryptocurrency’s treatment under Australia’s Goods and Services Tax scheme.

The Federal Government has confirmed, in budget papers, that Bitcoin will be treated like a currency and not a good or digital product under GST laws. The consequence is that GST will not need to be applied to Bitcoin sales after 1 July 2017.

Australian businesses had long complained that the application of GST to Bitcoin amounted to “double taxation” for users of the digital currency.

The Turnbull Government has indicated that the changes are prompted by a desire to make Australia more innovation friendly, and pivot the economy towards technology businesses. The Fact Sheet on FinTech, for example, states that:

The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia. From 1 July 2017, purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST, allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money for GST purposes. Currently, consumers who use digital currencies can effectively bear GST twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.

While initially viewed as somewhat of a novelty, Bitcoin has soared to prominence in the last half decade, reaching a high of US$ 2,800 per coin in recent days.

Bitcoin can be used to pay legal fees in Australia, with the firms of Adroit Lawyers and Legal Vision accepting the digital currency for payment of their invoices.

New breed of firm caters to start up needs

Start ups can have a hard time with lawyers. The traditional law firm can bog them down with strange language, hourly rates and an inflexible way of doing things.

A new breed of firm aims to be more responsive to entrepreneurial needs and a generation Y approach.

Recently profiled in Lawyer’s Weekly, Law Squared is an example of an Australian niche firm that focuses on entrepreneurs and their specific business needs.

Demetrio Zema, the founder of Law Squared, says that his firm does “a lot of education around some of those key areas of starting a business or growing a business or recapitalising, all those areas which entrepreneurs need and want”.

The firm, which has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, is eleven strong and was launched on the back of strong entrepreneurial expertise.

Mr Zema, a seasoned entrepreneur himself, praises a “relatable and approachable” rapport between lawyer and client and a flexible approach towards billing.

Law Squared, as an example, has thrown away the time sheets and eschews hourly rates. Pricing comes down to a “fee for service” or a membership fee, where all start up legal needs within a given scope are covered under a monthly plan approach.

When it comes to new start ups, Law Squared and another niche firm in the space, Michael Law Group in Sydney, focus on the getting the basics ticked off for a client.

“Most entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals that I meet generally go about their daily work without thinking too much about the legal aspects of their business”, says Mr Zema.

Things like business structure, basic contract hygiene and a solid understanding of the employee or contractor distinction are good start, points out Mr Zema. He also recommends that start ups think about what happens if there is a dispute, whether with a customer or within the business itself, and have a framework in place.

Vivian Michael, who heads Michael Law Group, focuses on helping new businesses and aims to make “legal services accessible to startups that would otherwise DIY, rely on legacy contracts or go without.”

Ms Michael stresses the ground rules for starting a business with friends, as an example.

Setting out expectations upfront is important, she writes. “It is a good idea to agree how to split accountability for certain roles between yourself and your co-founders and this could be based on your skill sets”.

“Written agreements help you to come back to what should be done when you feel that you are off track”.

In common with Law Squared, Michael Law Group takes an alternative approach to fees. The firm operates on a fixed fee model and bills up front, taking the uncertainty away from clients that are wary of letting lawyers loose on an hourly rate.

The ability to provide targeted assistance to start ups is a product of deciding what is and is not in scope. For example, Michael Law Group focuses exclusively on the transactional aspects of start up work and doesn’t deal with litigation.

While Law Squared offers a slightly broader scope under its monthly plans, its offering is also confined to the transactional and regulatory dimensions of a life as a start up.

457 visa abolition keeps employers and immigration lawyers busy

The scrapping of the 457 visa has made life harder for employers and some employees

The abolition of the 457 visa scheme by the Turnbull government has left employers and immigration lawyers with quite some work to do.

On 18 April 2017, the Federal Government abolished the 457 visa programme in favour of a new Temporary Skills Shortage visa scheme. The new visa comes in two variants, a Short-Term stream (2 years) and a Medium-Term stream (4 years).

Among the many changes, the new Temporary Skills Shortage visa:

  • reduces the types of occupations that qualify;
  • requires applicants to have at least 2 years work experience;
  • specifies a minimum salary; and
  • introduces a labour market eligibility test.

Short-Term stream visa holders will no longer qualify for permanent residence under normal conditions and can only renew their work permit once. After that, they will need to leave the country and reapply.

The scrapping of the 457 visa has made life harder for employers and some employees
Although some claim window dressing, the Turnbull Government has introduced a number of new restrictions with its replacement of the 457 visa programme.

New and more rigorous conditions also attach to the more permanent pathways, with some occupations being excluded from the permanent route entirely and new age limit of 45 years being imposed.

Businesses will have to keep these changes in mind when recruiting from overseas and may need specific legal advice on their existing recruitment programmes.

The first issue of concern will be whether a particular role filled under the former 457 visa programme has been removed from the new scheme. The Government removed some 200 jobs from the eligible skilled occupations list on 19 April 2017, so this aspect should be checked with an immigration lawyer.

Pilots and aircraft engineers, for instance, were removed from the occupations list and this has been cited as having a negative impact on the aviation industry.

“The sudden unexpected and shock changes to the occupations list for 457 visas have already started to come into effect immediately – this will likely impact many employers and employees quite significantly”, writes Justin Rickard of Australian Immigration Lawyers.

This lack of notice has left a number of employers and employees in a bind already.

“Some clients will have to withdraw [457 visa] applications because they are not on the new list”, says Marina Brizar, an immigration lawyer at Playfair Visa and Migration Services.

Existing 457 visa holders are unaffected, according to Government statements and normal legislative practice. People falling into this group would be wise nonetheless to monitor the situation and assess their long term intentions against any requirement to renew their visa.

Mr Rickard recommends that employees on current visas “proceed with lodgement [for a permanent visa] as soon as possible to avoid the changes”.

Both Mr Rickard and Ms Brizar point to the complexity of the overhaul, which will occur in at least three phases. The key dates for further changes are 1 July 2017, 31 December 2017 and 1 March 2018.

1 March 2018 is a particularly relevant milestone because of amendments to the permanent residency pathway, including the introduction of a new age limit for visa applicants.

Tougher sentencing laws not a good idea

Tougher sentencing laws, as proposed in Victoria by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, are not a good idea according to seasoned criminal lawyers.

Guy is proposing a “two strikes” rule for repeat offenders, which would impose minimum mandatory sentences and take discretion away from sentencing judges.

Such policies have recurrent circulation in politics but struggle to have any demonstrable effect, critics say. Doogue O’Brien George, a criminal law firm in Melbourne, recently tweeted that there is “no evidence” that these types of sentencing rules reduce crime rates.

Guy hopes to depose the Labor government in Victoria and crime is apparently safe ground with voters.

Bill Doogue, of Doogue O’Brien George, has previously written that such policies result in “more trials and longer ones”, principally because the incentive to plead guilty is removed.

“State finances will be impacted. We will pay tens of millions over the long haul because of these silly laws”, writes Mr Doogue.

This sentiment is shared by Michael Gatenby of Gatenby Criminal Lawyers in Queensland. Mr Gatenby writes that “all matters [should] turn on the merit of the facts and the circumstances of the offender”, rather than a generalisation at the legislative level.

Doogue and Gatenby are not alone in their criticism of mandatory sentencing laws. In 2015, the Law Council of Australia called for their abolition. The Law Council has prepared a reference list of these laws, available here.

Splitting up (part two)?  What about Fido?

We have written previously about how a property settlement can be a quick and cost-effective method to finalise financial matters with your ex-partnerParting couples may have arranged the division of the finances and decided who keeps the TV and who takes the porcelain vase, but may be left with one last question – what about the pets? And – “who gets the dog”?

 

An informal arrangement between couples is the most common way for parting couples to resolve what will happen with the pets.  Peter Magee, a family lawyer at Armstrong Legal, states that couples need to consider where your pet should reside and come to an informal agreement with your ex-partner regarding this.”  

What about me?
What about me?

 

Mr Magee outlines three factors that may be considered when agreeing where Fido is to live.  These include:

  • Who (if anyone) will remain in the formal matrimonial home.  “It may make sense”, states Mr Magee for the pet to remain with the former matrimonial home”.
  • If there are children from the relationship, where will they reside?  Mr Magee notes that the pets can “assist with providing the children with some sense of stability,” so it may make sense for the pets to follow the children.  
  • Mr Magee notes that while most pets are a financial burden, if the pet is a show dog or cat of value, then this should be taken into account on the “balance sheet” of the property.   

Technically a pet is “property” under Australian law, and the court therefore has the theoretical power to make orders for ownership of the pet. 

 

The Animal Law Committee of the Law Society of New South Wales in their Animal Law Guide, however, notes that while the courts may have this power in theory, in reality it has not been widely used by the courts.  

 

In the end, as with most family law matters, an amicable arrangement for where the pet will live is a better outcome than a battle in court on “who gets the dog?“.

 

This article has been derived from useful material published on the Armstrong Legal and Law Society of New South Wales websites. The information therein is not intended to be legal advice and is cited for informational purposes only. Seek your own legal advice. 

Excessive credit card fees to the axe, come 1 September

Excessive credit card fees will soon be unlawfulWith the passage of the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Payment Surcharges) Bill 2015 (Cth), “a corporation must not, in trade or commerce, charge a payment surcharge that is excessive” from 1 September 2016.

Dean Frith, of Baker Love Lawyers in Newcastle, writes that “the ACCC now has enforcement and investigation powers including being able to issue a notice to corporations requiring them to provide evidence about their payment surcharges and the actual cost of processing payments.”

The changes have been called for by CHOICE, a consumer group for some time. Mr. Frith writes that CHOICE had found “in the case of airfares booked online some airlines were charging surcharges that were in excess of 1,000% the actual cost to the airline of processing the payment via credit card.”

The recent amendments of credit card surcharges prohibit any surcharge that is excessive

The changes apply to “large merchants” from 1 September 2016 and all other merchants from 1 September 2017.

A ‘large merchant’ is one that satisfies at least two of the following three requirements: it has consolidated gross revenue of $25 million or more, the value of its consolidated gross assets is $12.5 million or more, or it employs 50 or more employees.

All businesses should “review the level of their surcharges to ensure that they comply with the new laws.” In doing so, Mr. Frith suggests they should review the guidance issued by the RBA.

See further Dean Frith, Changes to Credit Card Surcharge Laws, published on 26 August 2016. His office can be telephoned on (02) 4944 3322.

 

Workplace bullying – Bullying doesn’t just happen in the schoolyard

So, how to deal with bullies at work? Bullying in the workplace is a serious problem and one the Federal Government has taken steps to address with legislation. 

The long term effect that bullying can have on mental health is well known.  There are more and more workers compensation claims related to workplace bullying.   As the experts at Snedden Hall & Gallop explain, “there are a number of avenues of redress available if a worker has been bullied at work.

The Federal Government introduced anti-bullying laws with effect from 1 January 2014.  These laws give the Fair Work Commission specific powers to make orders to “stop bullying” in the workplace. These may include (according to the Commission):

  • requiring the individual or group of individuals to stop the specified behaviour
  • regular monitoring of behaviours by an employer or principal
  • compliance with an employer’s or principal’s bullying policy
  • the provision of information, additional support and training to workers
  • review of the employer’s or principal’s bullying policy.

The team at Snedden Hall & Gallop, a Canberra-based firm, explain that the laws apply to “a  broad category of ‘workers’, including employees, contractors, sub-contractors, trainees, work experience students and volunteers” and set out a process for affected workers to apply to the Fair Work Commission.  

How do deal with bullies at work? Thankfully, there are options as recent changes have set out a clear legal pathway for workplace bullying.
How to deal with bullies at work? Thankfully, there are options as recent changes have set out a clear legal pathway to address workplace bullying.

While the laws are still new, Snedden Hall & Gallop say that the laws “acknowledge and indeed reinforce, is the damaging impact of workplace bullying and the need to shine light on what is often a covert and systemic practice”.

If you have been bullied at work, or you are a manager and want to ensure that your workplace is safeguarded against possible claims of bullying, you may need legal advice.  Employment law experts, such as the team at Snedden Hall & Gallop, can advise you on the best course of action for your individual circumstances.  

Information on how to deal with bullies at work is also available from the Fair Work Commission on their website, where the formal application process is set out in detail.

Snedden Hall & Gallop is the oldest independent law firm in Canberra and have provided a wide range of legal services in the ACT for over 55 years.

This article has been derived from useful material published on the Snedden Hall & Gallop and Fair Work Commission’s website. The information therein is not intended to be legal advice and  is cited for informational purposes only. Seek your own legal advice.