Snedden Hall & Gallop

Business e-newsletter
Legal News for Canberra Businesses
 
October 2011

In our last newsletter, I outlined the problems being experienced in the Supreme Court with significant delays in the appointment of hearing dates and very long delays in the delivery of reserved judgments. Since that time, I have been involved in meetings with the Court and the new President of the ACT Law Society, with a view to finding solutions to the unacceptable delays.

 

It is likely that the Court will introduce new case management processes, with a view to streamlining litigation once proceedings are filed. Further, there may be an introduction of the type of pre-court alternative dispute resolution procedures which are now being used in the Federal Court, where parties are required to attempt resolution of a matter before a claim is even filed in the Court.

 

In terms of some types of litigation, it seems likely that the Law Society will propose some intense listing of claims with a visiting Judge or Judges with a view to resolving as many matters as possible and clearing the backlog. All of these potential solutions are important and will, in my view, help to address the delays.

 

At the same time, we have continued to experience obstacles in dealing with planning and other disputes in ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). It appears that whenever a dispute is raised in the Tribunal, the ACT government tends to involve lawyers and even counsel at an early stage, thereby driving up costs, and causing what we consider to be unnecessary complication. It is our view that ACAT should be a relatively informal and straightforward forum for dealing with issues that often impact on businesses and householders alike. In a recent interface with the representatives of the ACT government, Nick Tebbey of our office, through the Canberra Business Council's Business in Focus roundtable discussions, raised some of these issues and advocated for a more collaborative approach in trying to deal with these disputes.

 

Finally, at the present time, the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly is conducting hearings into the proposed changes to the compulsory third party legislation applying to motor vehicle accidents in the ACT. Recent information from New South Wales suggests that, although the entitlements of injured motor vehicle accident victims have been significantly restricted, the insurance companies have increased premiums and done so at a time when their profits are very high and in fact, three times the level which had been suggested as desirable and acceptable. At a time when the ACT Labor government seems intent on restricting the rights of ACT residents, it is timely to ask why that is the case when insurance companies seem to be performing at a high level. The Law Society, Bar Association and Australian Lawyers Alliance are all involved in making submissions to the Public Accounts Committee, and the Law Council of Australia has also made a strong submission concerning the proposed changes. We will keep you advised about the progress of that legislation in future newsletters.

 

As we move swiftly towards Christmas, I take this opportunity to remind you that often some careful advice up-front can avoid disputes and the type of delays referred to above and invite you to contact our team should you require assistance in relation to any business planning or other legal matters.

 

Richard Faulks

Managing Director

 RESALE PRICE MAINTENANCE AND IP LICENCES 

Snedden Hall & Gallop frequently advises companies on intellectual property (IP) matters. Recently, we assisted an IP licensor ensure their compliance with trade practices legislation.

 

Resale price maintenance occurs when a supplier of goods or services imposes conditions on the price at which a distributor can resell them. The practice of resale price maintenance is unlawful in Australia.

 

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 ("the Act") governs this area of law. Section 48 provides that 'a corporation or other person shall not engage in the practice of resale price maintenance'. IP licensors fall within the ambit of this provision.

 

Companies should be conscious that the immunities IP licences ordinarily enjoy do not extend to resale price maintenance. Although section 51(3) of the Act excludes IP licences from many of the Act's restrictions, it specifically states that this exclusion does not extend to section 48.

 

Precisely what constitutes 'retail price maintenance' is outlined at length in section 96(3) of the Act. Such behaviour may take several forms, however the essential characteristic is that the supplier in some manner controls the distributor's resale price. The most common examples of resale price maintenance are when price floors or ceilings are stipulated.

 

There is often a commercial desire to ensure IP is resold at a price that reflects its brand value. Yet licensors must be aware of their legal obligations in respect of resale price maintenance as well as other trade practices limitations. When in doubt, legal advice should be obtained to ensure compliance.

 

For more information please contact Anthony Antioch, paralegal, on (02) 6285 8037 or aantioch@sneddenhall.com.au.

 

ACCC APPROVALS FOR ANTI-COMPETITIVE CONDUCT

Snedden Hall & Gallop acts for a number of peak industry bodies and takes pleasure in advising them about corporate governance matters, commercial leasing requirements, and their dealings, where relevant, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). We recently assisted one such body with its authorisation to engage in anti-competitive conduct where the public benefit of such conduct far outweighed any possible detriment.

 

Submissions need to be made to the ACCC in relation to such conduct and the benefits arising from it. In this case, there were wide-ranging environmental benefits, as well as benefits for the public and consumers from the programmes implemented by our client.

Possible examples of such anti-competitive conduct are requiring members of an industry to undertake prescribed training, to become members of industry bodies, and/or pay a levy for the right to trade in certain products. Our various clients, whose conduct falls within the range of matters covered by the ACCC, enjoy the right to continue operating in their roles as industry supervisory bodies only with ACCC approval.

We, therefore, are proud to assist those clients in seeking the necessary authorisations from the ACCC and any variation to those authorisations when necessary.

Nick Tebbey, Senior Associate

MERITAS RECERTIFICATION

Snedden Hall & Gallop have been awarded recertification in Meritas, a global alliance of business law firms. Snedden Hall & Gallop joined Meritas in 1999, and as a condition of our membership, we are required to successfully complete recertification every three years.

 

Meritas is the only law firm alliance with an established and comprehensive means of monitoring and enhancing the quality of its member firms-a process that saves clients time in validating law firm credentials and experience. Meritas membership is selective and by invitation only. Firms are regularly assessed and recertified for the breadth of their practice expertise and client satisfaction. The organisation's extensive due diligence process ensures that only firms meeting the tenets of Meritas' Quality Assurance Program are allowed to maintain membership. Firm performance and quality feedback are reflected in a Satisfaction Index score, which is made available online.

 

"We are proud of our firm's achievements, and look forward to continuing our relationship with Meritas," said Dennis Martin, Director, at Snedden Hall & Gallop. "Meritas' Quality Assurance Program is not just valuable for our clients seeking legal expertise around the world, it also provides us with a framework to consistently monitor and address the quality of our services."

 

The recertification process includes exacting self-assessment, peer review by other law firms and client feedback. It examines such factors as timeliness and quality of a firm's client service, professional conduct and adherence to Meritas policies including acknowledgement of Meritas firm or client correspondence within 24 hours.

 

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(02) 6285 8000
lawyers@sneddenhall.com.au
www.sneddenhall.com.au
 

IN THIS EDITION:

 

Resale price maintenance and IP licences

 

ACCC approvals for anti-competitive conduct 

 

Meritas Recertification

 

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October- Starlight Children's Foundation Fundraising

 

 During the month of October, Snedden Hall & Gallop are proudly raising funds for the Starlight Children's Foundation.  

 

To donate to the Starlight Foundation, please visit:

www.starlight.org.au

SHG Staff on Jeans for Genes Day

 

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