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Terminating Employment – A Small Business Guide

Terminating Employment – A Small Business Guide

Running a business is hard work. When you also have issues with your employed staff, it can be a nightmare! The Law Society of New South Wales provides some general information for small business owners in their publication: Terminating Employment – A Small Business Guide. This guide covers matters including: when a small business can terminate a person’s employment; and when an employee can bring an action against a small business for unfair dismissal or unlawful dismissal. Click here to access the guide. At Garra Lawyers, we can also provide specialised advice to small businesses in respect to employment law...
Do I need a lawyer for my divorce?

Do I need a lawyer for my divorce?

Getting a divorce can be a relatively straight forward legal matter and some people choose to apply to the courts for a divorce without first consulting a lawyer. However, where matters are a little more complicated, you might want to seek legal advice.   Consider speaking to a lawyer if: You also wish to negotiate a property settlement or if there are issues regarding custody of the children There is a history of domestic violence Either party has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling Your spouse has already hired a lawyer – it can be hard to deal with complex emotional matters when you are faced against an experienced lawyer, and you might want to put yourself on an equal playing field to your spouse   If you hire a lawyer: They will prepare and file the documentation in court – you don’t need to worry about how to complete the paperwork or what information should be included. They will serve the documents on your partner – which means you don’t have to speak to your ex about the paperwork! They will assist you to respond to issues that may arise, including if your partner decides to challenge your application for divorce. They can advise you on associated legal issues relevant to your divorce, including financial settlements and care arrangements for your children.   At Garra Lawyers, we know that going through a relationship breakdown is a very difficult and emotional journey for clients, and we approach all matters with sensitivity and compassion. If you feel like you need legal advice, please contact us on 4272...
RBA Cuts Official Interest Rate

RBA Cuts Official Interest Rate

Yesterday the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to cut the official interest rate to a record low of 1.75 percent. This is the first movement on the official interest rate since the last cut in May 2015, and some economists are predicting more cuts on the horizon! To read more about the reasons for the cut and what this might mean for the economy, click here to view an article by Dr Andrew Wilson, economist from Domain....
Everyone Needs a Will

Everyone Needs a Will

Most Australians do not have a will prepared, but everyone needs a will!  Why do I need a will? To ensure that your assets are distributed to the person you choose. To assign guardianship to minors. To detail how your electronic data is to be dealt with – for example, will your facebook, Instagram and twitter accounts be shut down? To detail where your passwords are stored and who can have access to them – for example, how will people access your laptop and mobile phone?   How does marriage or separation impact on my will? If you are married and do not have a will then all your possessions will go to your spouse. You need a will if you want to make sure certain gifts pass to specific people – for example, if you want your jewellery to go to your child. If you are married but you and your partner have separated – without a will, your assets will still pass to your spouse! If you developed a will before you got married, then your will might now be invalid! You should get legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you have a valid will.   When should I update my will? Once you have an up to date will, you need to make sure you review it every three to five years to ensure it is current. Keep in mind that changes in your circumstances such as the purchase or sale of an asset, a birth, death, marriage or divorce are some of the events that mean you will need to update your will....
Can I Change My Child’s Name?

Can I Change My Child’s Name?

Can I change my child’s name? To formally change a child’s name, you must apply to the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Both parents must consent to the change and if the child is aged 12 years and over, they must also agree to change their name.   What happens if both parents do not consent to the name change? If both parties do not consent to change the child’s name, it is necessary to apply to the Family Law Courts for a court order. The Family Court can make an order giving permission to change the child’s name, or they may restrain (stop) a parent from using a different name for the child. Before you apply to the court for an order, you may need to attend Family Dispute Resolution. There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as for cases involving family violence, child abuse or urgency – see the Family Law Courts website for more information on Family Dispute Resolution – http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/home If an agreement cannot be reached at Family Dispute Resolution, then you may file an application for orders in the Family Court.   What will the Family Court Consider? When determining whether or not to allow a parent to change a child’s name, the court will consider: The welfare of your child. The Family Court will not make an order that is not considered to be in the best interests of the child and this consideration overrides the wishes of both parents; How the change of name will impact on your child; The potential effects on your child if the application is...
Should I sell at auction or sell privately?

Should I sell at auction or sell privately?

The property market continues to be very hot in Sydney and surrounds – including the Illawarra. It is certainly a seller’s market and it seems as though there are auctions happening every weekend in every street! However, you might be surprised to learn that approximately 75% of properties sold in Australia are done so by private treaty. That’s not to say that auctions are not as good as a private sale, but there are important considerations to take into account when you are determining whether to sell at auction or sell privately. Need an urgent sale? Perhaps you are having trouble paying your mortgage? Or maybe you’re about to add another child to your family? Whatever the reasons, you may need an urgent sale. One of the benefits of selling at auction is they generate a sense of urgency and competition that you don’t always get with a private sale. Agents employ a short but strong marketing campaign to generate as much interest in the property as possible. Auctioneers create an atmosphere of intensity on the day, which encourages prospective buyers to bid for fear of missing out. Private sales can lack this sense of urgency and competition – unless you have a number of parties interested in purchasing the property. Want the buyer to sign a contract immediately and not be able to pull out? With a private sale, sometimes there is a delay between when the offer is accepted and when the purchaser signs the contract. In addition, private sales are often subject to a 5 business day cooling-off period. During this time, the purchaser can decide...
A Building and Pest Inspection Could Save You Thousands

A Building and Pest Inspection Could Save You Thousands

When it comes to property, looks can be deceiving. Your dream home could hide many defects that are not immediately obvious to the ordinary buyer. Purchasing a brand new house or unit, does not guarantee that the property will be free of issues – sometimes builders cut corners or forget to do things like waterproofing the bathroom. How do I find out about any defects before I purchase? Many defects are only discoverable through ordering a building and pest inspection before committing to purchase the property. Not obtaining a building and pest inspection means that you could purchase a house that may cost you thousands of dollars to repair. Unseen issues such as dampness and rotting floorboards can be expensive. Pest infestations (such as termites) can be catastrophic for a home owner. You may also find you have trouble selling the property later on if buyers are diligent and obtain their own inspection. What if I don’t have time to get a building and pest inspection? Sometimes agents will put pressure on prospective buyers to commit to the sale as quickly as possible. They might tell you that other offers have been made that match yours, and the quickest person to exchange contracts will be the successful purchaser. If you are in a hurry to exchange contracts, you can do so with a cooling off-period. Legislation in NSW provides buyers with a 5 business day cooling-off period, during which time you can pull out of the purchase (however you will forfeit 0.25% of the purchase price). If the agent or vendor’s solicitor insists upon exchanging contracts without the cooling-off...
Can my child decide who they want to live with?

Can my child decide who they want to live with?

The Family Law Courts are concerned with making orders that are in the best interests of the child. The Courts recognise that children have opinions about what should happen after their parents separate, and the Courts will consider the wishes of the child. However, when considering the wishes of the child, the Court must also consider factors such as the child’s maturity and level of understanding. These factors will determine how much weight the Court applies to the wishes of the child.   How does a child share their wishes with the Court? The most common ways the Court is able to obtain and consider the wishes of a child is by considering anything contained in a report prepared by a family consultant and/or by appointing an independent lawyer to represent the child. Often the family consultant and independent children’s lawyer will meet with the child in order to obtain their wishes. The child will not be asked to attend Court to give evidence.   What does the Court do after hearing the wishes of the child? The Courts are obliged to make orders that are in the best interests of the child. The Court will consider the wishes of the child, as well as other relevant factors (such as the capacity of the parents to care for the children), and make a decision as to what is in the best interests of the child. Sometimes the Court will determine that what the child wants is not in their best interests. For example, a child may express a wish to live with a particular parent but evidence has been presented to the...
What is False and Misleading Advertising?

What is False and Misleading Advertising?

Businesses must ensure that any branding, statement, quote or representation is not false or misleading. This applies to advertising, packaging on a product and any information provided to customers by staff of the business. Misrepresenting the price of an item A common complaint made by customers is in respect to businesses misrepresenting the cost of an item. When advertising the pricing of a product, you must always list the full inclusive cost. For example, if a product costs $500 but the business also intend to charge GST on top of that then the advertised price should be $550 inclusive of GST. Similarly, if a business is advertising a product as being on sale with a $100 discount, then the product must have been available previously at a price of $100 more than the sale price. What if it was an honest mistake? When determining if a business has acted illegally by falsely misrepresenting their goods, it is irrelevant whether or not the business intended to mislead the customer. If the business’s advertisement, promotion, statement or representation created a misleading impression for the customer – such as in relation to the price, value or quality of the goods – then the business has most likely acted illegally. Exception to the rule – overly exaggerated claims There is one exception to the rule. If a business uses an overly exaggerated claim about a product or service that no reasonable person could treat seriously, then it is not misleading conduct. For example, if a bakery claims to bake the best cakes in Australia, this would not be misleading advertising but is otherwise...
New Selling Laws for Real Estate Agents

New Selling Laws for Real Estate Agents

This week the NSW Government announced they will be cracking down on underquoting by real estate agents and there will be severe penalties for agents who do not obey the new laws. The new law reforms (that are not yet in force but are expected to come into play in the near future) are designed to restrict agents from advertising any price for a marketed property that is less than the selling price recorded in the agency agreement. What does this mean? If an agent advises a seller that they can expect to receive $500,000 for the sale of their property, the agent is not able to provide a price guide to prospective purchasers that is less than $500,000. In other words, an agent cannot underquote to a prospective buyer. What else is covered under the new laws? Under the new laws real estate agents are also required to: Include their estimate of a property’s likely selling price in the agency agreement (the agreement that the seller signed when they engage the agent to sell the property); Record the evidence that informed their estimate and provide the vendor with this evidence in writing (for example, provide the vendor with addresses and figures of recent sales in the local area); Ensure a price range is no greater than 10% of the bottom figure (eg. $500,000-$550,000); Ensure advertising does not include any imprecise or unclear statements such as ‘offers over’ or ‘offers above’; Record all quotes provided while a property is marketed; and Notify the vendor if the original estimated selling price is revised. The agent will be required to provide the...