Validating Imperfect Wills

What Can Be Done?
For wills to be valid they must comply with a number of legal formalities; they must be in writing and there must be two witnesses who must attest to the will-maker signing the will in their presence. Read more…

The Process

It has been estimated that there are between 300,000-500,000 trusts in this country. Trusts have been established for many different reasons, including estate planning, creditor protection, to ensure access to rest home subsidies, tax benefits or for protection from relationship property claims. Read more…

Do I Still Need a Trust?

It's good practice to review its purpose

If you have a family trust set up a number of years ago, it's good practice to review it to ensure it is still 'fit for purpose'. Leading on from that is the question that is often asked of us, "Should I bring my trust to an end?" Read more…

Letting Fees - Now Defunct

From 12 December 2018 tenants can no longer be charged a letting fee. The legislation banning letting fees was passed in late October.

Many tenants paid their landlord a letting fee of a week's rent plus GST at the beginning of their tenancy. These letting fees cover the costs of the landlord's letting agent or lawyer in setting up the tenancy.

Whilst tenants will be pleased with this change, landlords have given the news a lukewarm response saying that the letting fee ban may lead to rent rises.

Workplace Culture Crackdown

The recent #metoo movement has drawn worldwide attention to workplace harassment. The New Zealand government has responded by collecting data about workplace harassment through confidential complaint lines and signalling clear expectations of New Zealand workplace culture.

Harassment may never be totally stamped out. However, your business can take steps to minimise harm and create a safer environment for your staff. These include:
• Implementing effective policies that set out your organisation's expectations regarding harassment and setting up procedures for dealing with complaints
• Ensuring that complaints are thoroughly investigated and treated seriously, and
• Creating an ongoing relationship of trust and confidence that helps to ensure your employees feel comfortable approaching their managers (or alternative representatives) about harassment.

If any business does not adjust and address harassment issues, it risks the possibility of adverse publicity and legal action in the form of personal grievances and/or human rights complaints.

There is now a great deal of information to help any organisation. Employment New Zealand's website is a good place to start.

The Commerce Commission has reinforced its position on extended warranties and consumer protection as shown by the recent charges brought against PB Technologies Ltd (PB Tech). PB Tech pleaded guilty to 14 charges brought by the Commission for shortcomings in its extended warranty agreements.

The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 already provides consumers with protection when goods do not comply with any of the specified warranties. However, to encourage consumers to purchase, retailers sometimes offer extended warranties as add-ons.

When offering extended warranties, retailers must provide clear information explaining the benefits of the extended warranty – in addition to benefits already provided by the legislation. It is a legal requirement for retailers to provide customers with a summary of these benefits. They must also give customers a copy of the extended warranty and inform them of their cancellation rights should they choose to purchase an extended warranty.

PB Tech was also warned about their use of 'bait advertising' when they supposedly sent a newsletter advertising discounted Apple watches to about 100,000 people when they only had 14 watches available at that price. The Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits misleading representations about goods or services, including their availability.

PB Tech were to be sentenced in September.

Downie Stewart Lawyers Dunedin 8th Level, 265 Princes St, Dunedin, 9016 03-477 2263
PO Box 1345, Dunedin 9054 |  Fax: 03 477 4021  |  E: info@downiestewart.co.nz