COVID-19
Information for you and your business around COVID-19 from a legal perspective
To assist you and your business in keeping up-to-date with legal information surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, we will be publishing various articles here on this page in the areas of business that are most likely to be affected.  

In the first instance, please contact your existing legal advisor (contact details here). If you are new to the firm please use the following list to make contact with us about your particular issue / query:  For further updates and information on COVID-19, see the following websites: Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also, as a member of SCG Legal, a global network of more than 110 independent law firms in over 50 countries, we'd like to direct you to its COVID-19 Global Resource Center
 
We have released a number of video updates as the legal ramifications are understood. Please either visit our YouTube playlist or visit our webpage

Articles

22/06/2020

Your home is your castle

Lockdown and the COVID-19 global pandemic has seen us all spending more of our time at home.

Keep reading...


9/06/2020

Deadline extended for the compliance statement for the healthy homes standard

From the 1 July 2019 landlords were required to meet the new rules for the healthy home standards that related to insulation, ventilation, heating, moisture ingress, draught stopping and drainage.

Keep reading...


21/05/2020

Extended Subsidy or Restructuring – What are your options at the expiry of the Wage Subsidy?

On 14 March 2020, as part of its budget announcement, the Government outlined that the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy would be extended.

Keep reading...


15/05/2020

COVID-19 Trusts and Charities: What you should know

In the context of a global pandemic affecting lives and livelihoods the world over, the focus of most of us has been on those legal matters which are front and center in our lives. What has perhaps gone under the radar is the impact COVID-19 may have for our trusts and charities, many of whom hold investments that are likely to be significantly affected by the ensuing economic fallout.

Keep reading...


15/05/2020

COVID-19: OIO to screen all overseas investments

The Government has announced that it will amend the Overseas Investment Act in mid-June. From then, the proposal is that all foreign investment that results in a more than 25% ownership interest, an increase in existing interests to, or greater than, 50%, 75%, 100%, or effectively a change of control in the underlying business, must be notified.

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14/05/2020

Pivoting in procurement – suppliers and purchasers forced to urgently review contracts and procurement processes

Supply chain has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and New Zealand is swiftly moving through the lockdown levels.

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12/05/2020

Crisis cartels or COVID collusion: Supreme Court Judgement a timely reminder against cartel arrangements

A Supreme Court judgement handed down last month related to the Commerce Commission’s cases against real estate agencies in Hamilton in connection with TradeMe fees for properties listed for sale. The Commerce Commission has to date secured $19m in penalties and the High Court will now determine the penalties for the remaining two agencies and two individuals. This time next year it will be a criminal offence to enter into a cartel arrangement in New Zealand. This aligning New Zealand competition law with that of Australia and other trading partners.

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6/05/2020

COVID-19: Change in restrictions to assist house buying

The Reserve Bank has now removed the general restrictions previously imposed on banks that impacted on the banks’ ability to lend especially to those in the first home buyer market.

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22/04/2020

COVID-19 insolvency reforms – a job part done?

The Government has announced that it will be introducing temporary changes to the Companies Act in an effort to see as many businesses survive the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 as possible. The changes will be welcome news to debtors , however, the news may not be so rosy for creditors, many of whom will also be feeling the pinch of the COVID-19 crisis.

Keep reading...


21/04/2020

Covid-19: Employment considerations moving to Level 3

The government has announced that New Zealand will move to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 from 28 April 2020 for two weeks, at which time it will be reviewed. Under Level 3, people are required to work at home unless that is not possible. Workplaces can only open if Workers cannot work from home; and Workplaces are operating safely; and Customers are not allowed on premises; and Businesses can trade without physical contact. Does this affect your business?

Keep reading...


21/04/2020

COVID-19: Health and Safety requirements for returning to the workplace under Level 3

With the announcement that New Zealand moves to Alert Level 3 on 28 April 2020, many businesses are asking what they need to do to prepare for a return to the workplace. Health and safety planning will be needed to ensure that effective COVID-19 controls are in place and that the health and safety of workers, and other people, is not put at risk.

Keep reading...


20/04/2020

COVID-19 Bubble trouble

New Zealanders are having to quickly adjust to a new normal as we face the COVID-19 crisis and the introduction of “alert levels” which greatly restrict the way we live. “Bubble” is a term coined by our Prime Minister to describe the group of people who make up a household. For the four weeks (at least), we are all under strict orders to stay in our bubble and stay home. This drastic change to our way of living is guaranteed to bring about new challenges.

Keep reading...


17/04/2020

Property settlements during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown

The COVID-19 lockdown is a unique situation for New Zealand and the rest of the world. Property settlements are just one of the areas that have already been affected. Many clients are now in a position of having an unconditional contract during this period but have yet to settle on the purchase and/or move into the property.

Keep reading...


8/04/2020

Protecting your business from cyber risks during COVID-19

COVID-19 has created unprecedented working situations for businesses. Many are rapidly trying to grapple with their employees working from home. Cybercriminals are using these unprecedented times as an opportunity for online scams and attacks. Businesses need to be hypervigilant.

Keep reading...


7/04/2020

COVID-19 Working remotely and maintaining privacy obligations

COVID-19 has created unprecedented working situations, with many employees being required to work from home at short notice. This article sets out some simple practices that you and your employees can implement at home, to ensure privacy standards are maintained.

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6/04/2020

COVID-19: Safe harbour from insolvent trading – what does this mean for directors?

As COVID-19 has dramatically changed the business landscape in New Zealand, many directors have been left wondering whether their efforts to save their businesses could expose them to personal liability for trading whilst insolvent.

Keep reading...


6/04/2020

COVID-19 The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme

On 1 April the New Zealand Government, together with retail banks and the Reserve Bank announced the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme package for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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3/04/2020

COVID-19: Urgent measures taken to avoid or delay insolvencies - Important changes to the Companies Act 1993

At a press conference today given by Finance Minister Grant Robertson (Minister) it was announced that the government will be introducing legislation to amend the Companies Act 1993 (Act) to help companies that are faced with insolvency due to COVID-19.

Keep reading...


3/04/2020

COVID-19 Essential workers leave scheme established

On 2 April 2020, the Government announced an “essential workers leave scheme” in relation to essential workers who are unable to work from home and become sick or are vulnerable, or who have sick or vulnerable members of their household.

Keep reading...


1/04/2020

COVID-19: Consultation timeframes extended for Government policy documents

The Ministry for the Environment has extended the consultation timeframes for the proposed National Environmental Standards for the Outdoor Storage of Tyres and proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. In addition, the Ministry of Transport has extended the consultation timeframe for the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

Keep reading...


1/04/2020

Valuations and COVID-19: The effect of a global pandemic on relationship property divisions

Separation and the division of relationship property is a stressful and uncertain process under normal circumstances. This will only be exacerbated during a global pandemic.

Keep reading...


30/03/2020

2020 Employment law calendar - have you got the key dates noted?

2020 has not been the year we all expected it to be. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new and unprecedented “normal”. However, this year was due to see a number of changes to our laws which will impact on employment relationships. These changes are still going ahead despite the pandemic (although in some instances altered by the pandemic), and it is important that you are aware of them. To ensure you are up-to-date with these law changes we have set them out in a ‘2020 Employment Law Calendar’.

Keep reading...


30/03/2020

Local Government – Urgent amendments to legislation to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

This update focuses on the changes to the LGA and the LGOIMA, in relation to holding meetings through audio or audiovisual link, and amendments regarding public access and posting of agendas.

Keep reading...


27/03/2020

COVID-19 Commercial Leases and Pandemics

Do you understand your obligations and if rent will be payable during the lockdown? Many businesses are non-essential business and will not be able to access or operate from the commercial premises they lease during lockdown.

Keep reading...


27/03/2020

Domestic violence during the lockdown – help is still available

Regrettably, it is predicted that there will be a rise in domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is an unintended consequence of families being kept home, stressed and potentially out of employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also an unintended consequence for people living in already abusive homes, as they are having to spend more time with their abuser - and thus be at a heightened risk of further abuse.

Keep reading...


25/03/2020

COVID-19 What does the lockdown mean for shared care arrangements?

Following the Government’s announcement that New Zealand is moving to a nationwide lockdown for at least four weeks, naturally there has been some uncertainty for families as to what this means for shared care arrangements.

Keep reading...


24/03/2020

COVID-19 Is my business insured for this?

On Wednesday 25 March 2020, our COVID-19 status will rise to level 4. New Zealand will go into lockdown. Schools and non-essential businesses will close, causing serious financial hardship for many. While insurance policies vary, for most, it is unlikely business interruption insurance will cover those financial losses.

Keep reading...


24/03/2020

COVID-19 Employment update for Alert Level 4

Following the government’s announcement yesterday, you may be wondering what you need to do with your staff. All non-essential businesses are required to close from 11:59pm on Wednesday 25 March 2020. 

Keep reading...


23/03/2020

COVID-19 Possible further relief for struggling businesses during the current Covid 19 crisis

The Australian government has announced that it is putting in place temporary measures to prevent businesses and individuals temporarily facing financial distress as a result of COVID-19 from being forced into liquidation.  Given New Zealand’s insolvency laws are closely aligned with Australia it is likely that in the coming days our Government will follow suit with a similar package. 

Keep reading...


23/03/2020

COVID-19 and getting your affairs in order

In times of uncertainty it is important to have your personal affairs in order. From a legal standpoint this includes having a will, considering powers of attorney, property matters and how your estate or trusts are administered.

Keep reading...


23/03/2020

COVID-19 Am I insured for this?

In this article we canvas COVID-19 issues with personal insurances; Travel, Health, Life and Income Protection Insurance. 

Keep reading...


23/03/2020

COVID-19 Update from the Courts of New Zealand

Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann has announced new measures that would be brought in in response to the Government’s implementation of a four-level COVID-19 alert system and designation of the current situation as level two – reduce contact. The Chief Justice’s message was clear: the courts will continue to operate, though practices may need to change to limit social contact.

Keep reading...


20/03/2020

COVID-19: key messages for employers

COVID-19 is already having an impact on the workplace with many employers having hard conversations about the many ways that this pandemic may affect their operations and, therefore, their employees. Many of the issues created by this public-health crisis are unprecedented, resulting in difficult questions being raised over how employers are expected to react.

Keep reading...


19/03/2020

The impact of COVID-19 on cashflow and solvency

The continuing spread of COVID-19 and government measures in response means an economic downturn with increasing business failures. What should business owners consider in these circumstances?

Keep reading...


19/03/2020

COVID-19 and the inevitable construction delays that are imminent

Construction projects around the world rely on both a healthy labour force and, increasingly, on materials and components that are produced in another country; particularly those produced in China. COVID-19 has developed rapidly, slowing trade and disrupting the international supply chain.

Keep reading...


19/03/2020

Backing out of a deal as a result of COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 and government measures in response is leading businesses to reconsider whether they should go ahead with some deals currently under negotiation. When can your business or your counterparty back out of a deal under negotiation?

Keep reading...


19/03/2020

COVID-19 corporate and commercial considerations for M&A transactions

Whilst the impact of COVID-19 on M&A activity in New Zealand and around the globe is not yet known, there are certain steps that vendors and purchasers should consider.

Keep reading...


19/03/2020

The impact of COVID-19 on performance of contracts

The spread of COVID-19 and government measures in response are affecting supply chains and the ability of businesses to perform their contracts. What if your business or your supplier (or other counterparty) is prevented from carrying out its obligations?

Keep reading...


19/03/2020

COVID-19 and the business-as-usual side of disputes

It is important during times like these to remember the ‘business as usual’ aspects of life and litigation that, if ignored, can create bigger issues down the track. 

Keep reading...


13/02/2020

Novel Coronavirus – an increasing concern for the workplace

We all expect employers to act in good faith and follow good human resources practices to avoid workplace issues or problems. But sometimes when issues such as a potential outbreak of a deadly virus occurs, what can employers do to protect their workers?

Keep reading...





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