Changes to the Overseas Investment Act – do they affect me?

Written by Caroline Mason - Associate (Property)

Changes to the Overseas Investment Act have now been passed by Parliament and come into effect on 22 October 2018. What do these changes mean for you?

The recent changes to the Overseas Investment Act 2005 (OIA) don’t just affect overseas buyers.

From 22 October 2018 (when the changes come into effect), all purchasers of residential land will have to complete a “residential land statement”. You will need to provide this statement to your lawyer so that they can transfer the land to you.

To complete the residential land statement, you will need to answer the following questions:

Whether you are a current NZ citizen, or an Australian or Singaporean citizen buying residential land only; or
Whether you hold a NZ residence class visa or Australian or Singaporean permanent resident visa and all of the following apply:

Read more here

Mental health and well-being of employees – do employers have a duty of care?

Written by Ashley-Jayne Lodge - Partner (Employment)

Greg Boyed, a well-known and talented New Zealand news presenter, passed away suddenly in August. In a statement released by his family, they said Greg suffered from depression. His death reignited the public conversation around New Zealand’s high rates of mental illness and suicide, and the role the workplace and employers have to play in the mental health of their employees.

In an article released in the following days, fellow journalist Rawdon Christie claimed managers have a duty to care for their staff. While most would agree that employers should care for the wellbeing of their staff, including their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, are they legally required to?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 defines health as being both physical and mental. Employers as Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking have a primary duty of care to provide a work environment that is without risk to both health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable.

In this context, it means taking reasonably practicable steps to ensure the workplace does not cause risk to employees’ mental health. The two most common causes of mental health issues in the workplace are workplace related stress, and bullying and/or harassment.

Read more here.

Claims on death by estranged children

Written by Penny Henderson - Partner (Relationships)

Often we are contacted by a child after the death of a parent to see whether they should make a claim against their parent’s estate. They may be unhappy with the size of the provision for them, or may have been excluded completely. Equally we have faced questions from parents who want to leave a child out of their will. This may be for “bad behaviour” or estrangement.

Waine v Tigg is a recent High Court case that is a good example of both the obligation to recognise children, and the effects of estrangement on any entitlement.

Briefly, the deceased, Mr Parker, had died leaving his entire estate of approximately $643,000 to his two nephews.  He had previously been married in England, but left his wife and children aged 4 and 8 in 1968, and England in 1969.  He did not have contact with the children for 45 years.  He did not provide funds to their mother, either spousal maintenance or child support.  Their mother was totally reliant on benefits and family assistance from the point of separation.

Read more here.

Confirmed increases to visa application fees

Written by Natasha Rae - Associate (Immigration) 

Application fees for New Zealand visas are set to rise dramatically, on 5 November 2018. These changes were made following a period of public consultation.

The confirmed fee increases

MBIE has now confirmed the following changes to visa application fees:

Removing the discount for online applications.

  • 54% increase across most work visa categories.
  • 43% increase to immigration levies.
  • 10% increase to visitor visas and most residence visas.
  • 1% decrease for skilled migrant residence visas.
  • 20% increase to employer accreditation initial and subsequent applications.
  • 6.5% fee reduction for student visas.

Read more here.


Written by Ashley-Jayne Lodge - Partner (Employment)

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has set up a register to record allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. This comes following a direction from the Women’s Minister, Julie Anne Genter, in the broader social context of the #metoo movement.

Genter has also sought advice from MBIE as to how the data could be used, for example, to track patterns of sexual harassment complaints against specific employers, or in specific industries. Equal Employment Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue welcomes the creation of the register and has suggested combining the two organisations data.

The register is a positive step to address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, and to ensure the conversation regarding gender equality and respect continues.

Read more here.

Company creditors and claw-back

Written by Kirsten McMullen - Senior Associate (Litigation)

Under our Companies Act liquidators can come knocking to recover funds that companies have paid to creditors months (and years) prior. The liquidator’s powers of claw-back are not widely understood by creditors, and to many, the powers seem inherently unfair. In this article, we address what the claw-back regime is, and how creditors can try and protect themselves.

To set the scene we introduce a hypothetical example of Paver John (PJ). PJ enters into a contract with XYZ Builders (XYZ) to perform stone paving works at a development XYZ was working on for a contract price of $100,000. PJ and his team worked tirelessly over several months to complete the paving works to a high standard. PJ rendered invoices to XYZ for the work performed. After some chasing XYZ paid PJ’s invoices eventually, and PJ moved on to focus on other projects. 18 months later XYZ went into liquidation after not paying its tax bills. After reviewing XYZ’s accounts and records the liquidator finds that XYZ has debts in excess of $2m. The liquidator also sees that XYZ had made payments to PJ totalling $100,000. The liquidator has since contacted PJ requesting he pay $100,000 back to the liquidator or face Court proceedings.

Read more here.

Insurance and RMA offences

Written by Andrew Schulte - Partner (Resource Management)

Most who run businesses that are exposed to environmental risks such as farming and heavy industry have long been aware of the importance of holding relevant and realistic public liability and statutory liability insurance coverage.

Holding insurance means there are certain responsibilities that need to be complied with, including advising your insurer when issues may arise, though the exact extent of your responsibilities will be governed by the wording of your insurance policy. It cannot be overstated how important it is to fully disclose relevant information and to be thoroughly familiar with the details of your insurance coverage, its limits and your responsibilities.

One issue that has been the subject of some recent directions and decisions at the Environment Court, and that has also been discussed at the High Court, is the relevance, and indeed the lawfulness, of holding public liability and statutory liability insurance when it comes to sentencing for environmental offences under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Read more here.


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