New Zealand's highest court, the Supreme Court, recently issued a judgement in relation to a family farming company that should signal to equity farmers the importance of shareholder agreements in determining disputes and in particular ending relationships efficiently. Read more…

Second Thoughts...

What happens when your employee wants to retract their resignation?  Read more…

Foreign Residential Investment

Housing may be freed up with the new foreign buyer screening process being introduced in the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill.

The Bill is currently before the Committee of the whole House; following this, it will return to the House for its final reading. Once passed, the Bill will prevent people who are not New Zealand, Australian and Singaporean citizens or residents/resident visa holders, from investing in residential land without first obtaining consent.

This restriction includes all 'transactions' with residential property, not limited to purchasing but including entering into residential tenancy agreements for a term of five years or more, or entering into periodic leases that offer a certainty of term for three years or more.

The three grounds for consent will be granted where the investor can show the investment will:
1. Increase housing in New Zealand: this will be applied where investors build new apartment complexes off the plans or purchase hotel units and lease those units back to the hotel
2. Benefit New Zealand: this will apply where the foreign investment creates jobs or investment opportunities in New Zealand, or
3. The investor shows a commitment to New Zealand: investors must normally reside in New Zealand and have spent at least 183 days out of the last 12 months in New Zealand.

The Bill will not have retrospective effect, so any overseas investor who already owns land in New Zealand or those who already have a transaction (an agreement to purchase or an existing lease) in place at the date of commencement will fall under the restrictions of the current Act where residential land is not sensitive land.

For guidance more information on how this legislation could affect you buying or selling property – either now or in the future – please give us a call.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance

A reminder that since 1 July 2018 all lawyers have been required to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.

The purpose of this legislation is to prevent money laundering and the financing of any terrorism. By asking for more information from you we have more knowledge about the transaction we are to undertake on your behalf and we can ensure that we will not be breaching our requirements under the Act. If we have any uncertainties about the transaction we must to report this to the authorities. This means we are now asking for more information from you. In most situations, we must have the information from you before we can carry out any work.

Information required: We now need proof of your identity and date of birth, such as a passport, firearms licence, driver's licence or birth certificate. We also need proof of your address – such as a recent utilities account or a bank statement.

If the transaction involves an entity such as a trust or a company, we will need further information from you. This includes details of people who are directors, shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries. We may also be required to ask questions for confirmation of the source of the money and the reason for the proposed transaction (what you are asking us to do). We will endeavour to make this information-gathering as easy as possible.

The Great Lawyers' Fee Debate!

Lawyers' fees are often a difficult subject to discuss. They shouldn't be.

When setting a fee we need to consider many things but, ultimately, the fee we charge to you must be fair and reasonable – for us both. We need to be paid for the expertise we give to provide you with a trouble-free property transaction and you need to know what we do to ensure this happens for you. Read more…

The Primary Production Select Committee is considering the Farm Debt Mediation Bill. The Bill proposes to introduce agricultural debt mediation as a mandatory step before the appointment of a receiver in respect of agricultural debt.
Consultation has now closed for the Zero Carbon Bill. If enacted the Zero Carbon Bill will put a 2050 target in place to reduce emissions. We will keep you updated on the progress of these Bills.

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