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COVID-19 “Safe Harbour” Not for Sinking Ships
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, August 2020

Director’s personal liability for company tax debts On 10 July 2020, Inland Revenue issued a public ruling (the Ruling) considering the application of the asset stripping rules (under which directors and shareholders may be personally liable for company tax debts) in the context of the recently enacted exception to certain directors’ duties under the Companies Act 1993 (the Safe Harbour)...

Government Releases Commercial Rent Relief Package
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, June 2020

You may well have seen announcements in the media last week around a Government ‘rent relief package’ for commercial tenancies affected by COVID-19, which involves an implied rent relief clause to be incorporated into ‘qualifying’ leases, and a compulsory arbitration scheme that will apply where parties are unable to agree a fair abatement of rent...

COVID-19: Practical Steps for Protecting Privacy while Contact Tracing
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, May 2020

The need to protect privacy while enabling contact tracing for COVID-19 cases is top of mind as more New Zealand businesses prepare to reopen their doors under Alert Level 2. While the basic requirements for contract tracing registers seem simple enough to follow, there are some practical steps businesses should take to ensure compliance with current privacy law...

FMA Level 2 Guidelines
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, May 2020

The Government has announced that New Zealand will be moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 at 11:59pm on 13 May 2020. While it is still not business as usual, Alert Level 2 will see an increase in business activity. The key, however, is to reduce the risk of transmission. In response, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has published guidelines (supported by WorkSafe) on how financial service businesses and staff should operate under Level 2...

COVID-19 Contact Tracing - Will a Contact Tracing App Replace the Need for a Register?
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, May 2020

With the country now in Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 2 on the horizon, many businesses will be gearing up to welcome their customers physically back onto their premises in some way. At the same time, the Government has foreshadowed a continued focus on contact tracing for the foreseeable future...

Alert Level 3: Big Change for Some Commercial Tenancies, Very Little Change for Others
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

Alert Level 3 began at 11.59pm on 27 April 2020, with the implementation of the Health Act (COVID-19 Alert level 3) Order 2020 (theLevel 3 Order). For some people and businesses this change provides welcome relief to revive business operations (albeit with some modifications), but for others very little has changed...

COVID-19: Remobilising the Construction Sector
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

The New Zealand Government has announced that New Zealand will move to Alert Level 3 (AL3), effective from 11.59pm on 27 April. For the construction sector, this means that ‘non-essential’ projects are able to remobilise to site and resume performance of their works – subject to compliance with health and safety and physical distancing rules...

Advertising Health Related Claims for COVID-19 Products
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

Currently there is an increase in the production and sale of products to help deal with risks from COVID-19 such as face masks, hand sanitisers and other personal protective equipment. In some cases, these products are advertised with health related claims, including the prevention of COVID-19. With a rush to get products to market quickly in response to global demand there is an increased risk of unsubstantiated or misleading and deceptive claims...

COVID-19: Summary of Government Support Available
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

The New Zealand Government has provisioned $52 billion to spend (if necessary) on measures that cushion the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and communities, and support the long-term recovery of the country’s economy. The support programmes announced to date are primarily targeted at keeping businesses afloat and keeping employees in work using a variety of tools, including subsidies, preferential loans, revenue foregone and relaxations of regulatory obligations...

Will Latest COVID-19 Tax Changes Reignite M&A Transactions?
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

While targeted as relief for small and medium-sized enterprises adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, new tax measures announced today by the Government apply more broadly and may have significant implications for M&A transactions. The package of business tax changes could affect the purchase price for some target companies and potentially the timing of when transactions should complete...

COVID-19: Unlocking the Lockdown – Key Issues for Landlords and Tenants as Alert Level 4 Restrictions Ease
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

As the Covid-19 curve appears to be flattening and Government rhetoric becomes more positive, the country, and in particular the business community, is starting to contemplate what life at Alert Level 3 might look like. The breakneck speed with which the country moved to Alert Level 4 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – from Level 2 to total lockdown in less than three days – left businesses with little time to prepare for the impact it would have on their operations...

NZX Releases Continuous Disclosure Update to Issuers in Response to COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

NZX Regulation has today released an update providing guidance for issuers on the approach to disclosure in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The full text of the NZX update is available here...

COVID-19: Government Guidance for Public Agencies in the Construction Sector
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

Two weeks into the Government-imposed countrywide lockdown (the Alert Level 4 Lockdown), we have seen a flurry of activity in the construction sector as Contractors and Principals grapple with the commercial, legal/contractual and practical challenges associated with the lockdown and COVID-19 more generally. The construction sector will play a lead role in kick-starting the New Zealand economy when the Alert Level 4 Lockdown is lifted...

COVID-19: Essential Workers Leave Support
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

The Government’s COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support scheme provides support to essential services to pay employees who can’t work due to COVID-19.   Eligibility COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support is only available to essential services. Essential services are those that provide the ‘necessities of life’ and are listed on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website...

COVID-19: Employers Can Still Make Commercial Decisions Regarding their Workforce
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

Much has been said in the media about how employers cannot make changes to their workforce without the consent of employees, or that accessing the Government’s COVID-19 Wage Subsidy means you can’t make changes to your workforce. However, those blunt messages risk sending a simplistic message which does not reflect the commercial reality of the world that businesses are now operating in...

Consumer Finance and COVID-19 – New Regulations and Guidance
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

The Government has provided guidance on the regulation of consumer finance following the disruption caused by COVID-19. Parliament passed theCredit Contracts and Consumer Finance (Exemptions for COVID-19) Amendment Regulations 2020(Amendment Regulations) on 31 March 2020. The Commerce Commission (Commission) has also releasedguidancefor lenders operating during the COVID-19 pandemic (Guidance Document)...

Government Issues Relief for Directors and Companies from Insolvency Provisions in the Companies Act 1993
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

MinterEllisonRuddWatts welcomes the announcement made by the Government today of a number of measures to support businesses during the uncertainty created by COVID-19. The reforms provide flexibility in the application of certain directors' duties in the Companies Act 1993 and implement an accelerated mechanism for companies to request a moratorium on the payment of debts...

New Zealand Tax and COVID-19 — New Tax Relief Measures
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

The New Zealand government’s new tax measures provide some relief for taxpayers dealing with the effects of COVID-19. However, the global pandemic is causing a number of tax issues that have not yet been addressed. Simon Akozu and Phillip Chrisp of MinterEllisonRuddWatts explain the new tax measures, and flag some potential issues for multinationals that operate in New Zealand to consider...

Construction Sector Mitigation Measures in the Face of COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, April 2020

Some construction companies are just weeks away from collapse – including private principal developers and contractors. As parties battle out what contractual relief looks like for the Alert Level 4 lockdown, it is encouraging to see a focus on mitigation measures. This focus spans across all levels: mitigation as an industry; collaborative mitigation steps by parties for projects; and the requirement on contractors to mitigate their loss...

NZX Announces Additional Class Waiver and Ruling in Response to COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

On 26 March, NZX Regulation announced an additional class waiver and ruling for issuers in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. This follows two previous waivers announced earlier in the month. The NZX’s media release is available here.   Who needs to read it? Why? The NZX’s announcement will be of interest to all listed issuers, particularly those considering their capital raising needs in the coming months...

AML/CFT Identity Verification during COVID-19 Lockdown
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

On Thursday 26 March 2020, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Financial Markets Authority and Department of Internal Affairs (together, the AML/CFT Supervisors) jointly released urgent guidance on how to comply with the verification requirements under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT Act) while New Zealand is subject to the COVID-19 Alert Levels and, in particular, the current national lockdown of Level 4 (COVID-19 Verification Gui

Rent Abatement in the COVID-19 Level 4 Period
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

As businesses process the economic impacts of COVID-19, all options will need to be considered to get through New Zealand’s level 4 alert period – and beyond. For businesses that lease their premises, there may be relief available through a rent abatement. Some leases contain what is known as a “no access in an emergency” clause...

COVID-19: What’s fair when it comes to rent and outgoings abatement?
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

As New Zealand progresses through the Government-mandated Level 4 lockdown period in response to COVID-19, we are reminded by our Prime Minister to be kind to each other. In the commercial world, parties generally do not always make business decisions based on kindness. But landlords and tenants will certainly need to work together as they grapple with the issue of a “fair proportion” of rental and outgoings abatement during this period...

Competition Law not Suspended by COVID-19 Emergency
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

The Commerce Commission (NZCC) Announced this week that it had no intention of taking enforcement action against businesses that are cooperating “to ensure New Zealanders continue to be supplied with essential goods and services during this unprecedented time. If you need to work with your competitors to share staff or distribution networks or take other measures to ensure security of supply, you are able to do this...

COVID-19: Financial Services are Essential Services
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

Last updated: 10.00am on Friday 27 March 2020 On Wednesday 25 March, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) published a more detailed list of essential financial services, which has been confirmed by the Council of Financial Regulators (CoFR) after consulting with the Government. This follows on from the FMA’s earlier updates on COVID-19 essential services available here and here...

COVID-19: Six Key Actions for Private Equity and Venture Capital Fund Managers
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, private equity and venture capital (PE/VC) funds are preparing for a major and widespread economic impact. Furthermore, from 11.59pm on Wednesday 25 March, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4 meaning that all New Zealand non-essential businesses are required to close and either work from home where possible or otherwise not operate if working from home is not an option...

Tax Changes in COVID-19 Economic Response Package Now Enacted
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

The impact of costs incurred addressing COVID-19 risks, and the downturn in business for many sectors of the economy, has seen Parliament enact several business cashflow and tax measures. On 25 March 2020 the COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill was enacted. The measures include: Reintroduction of depreciation on non-residential buildings: This will allow owners of buildings that are not residential buildings (i.e...

Update to COVID-19 Wage Subsidies
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

The Government has updated its Economic Response Package (Package) for organisations in New Zealand, in light of the move to Alert Level 4 from Wednesday 25 March 2020. Alert Level 4 means that all New Zealand non-essential businesses are required from Wednesday to work from home where possible, and otherwise not operate if working from home is not an option. For employers and employees, the key change to the Package is the removal of the $150,000 cap for the wage subsidy scheme...

Building and Construction: What the COVID-19 Lockdown Means for You
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

From 11.59pm on Wednesday 25 March, New Zealand will be at ‘Alert Level 4’ of the country’s pandemic response plan seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19. Only ‘essential services’ will remain open and operational for the next 4 weeks, at least. Many in the construction industry have prepared their workplace for a potential lockdown...

COVID-19: Managed Funds
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

COVID-19, and economic responses in New Zealand and around the world, is continuing to cause record falls (and recoveries) in the markets in which KiwiSaver and other managed funds invest...

COVID-19 and the Aviation Industry
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

The impact of COVID-19 has thwarted many sectors, but none more than international aviation. Our own national carrier, Air New Zealand, has been severely affected and the recent announcement of the closure of New Zealand’s borders to all non-residents will only exacerbate the impact on this sector...

NZX Announces Cass Waivers in Response to COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

On 19 March, NZX Regulation announced two class waivers for issuers in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The NZX’s release can be found online.   Who needs to read it? Why? The NZX’s announcement will be of interest to all listed issuers, particularly those: considering their capital raising needs in the coming months; and/or facing internal and external pressures that may impact their ability to meet their financial reporting obligations...

Sports, Major Events and COVID-19: What Should Event Organisers be Doing?
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

COVID-19 is disrupting events all around the world COVID-19 is causing disruption to sports and other events around the world. In the United States, the NBA has been put on hold, the Players’ Championship and other PGA events have been cancelled, and cancellations and postponements have occurred in motor racing, baseball and a host of other sports...

The Financial Markets Authority’s COVID-19 Response
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

On 19 March, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) provided both: an update on the COVID-19 situationand its impact on entities the FMA licenses. (with NZX) extended the deadline for financial reporting by two months (giving market participants six months to file their audited financial statements). It also advised there may be delays to planned thematic reviews and the introduction of new regulations...

The International Education Sector and COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

As with many sectors, there will be challenging times ahead for the international education industry. Many education providers will have international students who are here in New Zealand studying but very worried about what is going on back home and requiring heightened pastoral care. There is increasing uncertainty around what will happen in relation to international students enrolled to start in later semesters...

COVID-19 and Listed Companies
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

COVID-19 continues to create unprecedented circumstances for businesses, and listed companies face their own particular challenges arising out of this rapidly evolving situation. Several listed companies have removed their guidance and earnings’ outlook from the market and are explaining their inability to provide further information at this stage to investors given the rapidly evolving circumstances...

The Government’s Economic Response to COVID-19: What Employers and Businesses Need to Know
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

The Government has now released its Economic Response Package (Package) for organisations in New Zealand. This is Phase One in the Government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Package is significant and has been designed to support workers taking leave and businesses who are facing heavy losses in the wake of the impact of strict self-isolation measures and the economic effects of a reduction in trade and business...

Managing COVID-19 as an Employer
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

  Following the outbreak of COVID-19, employers need to ensure they are taking appropriate steps to manage the potential risks for their workers and others who may visit the workplace. Some of the actions may be required at law under health and safety legislation...

Protecting Construction Projects from COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

  COVID-19 is having varying impacts on the ability of some parties to successfully deliver their construction and projects contracts, with some projects facing delays, disruption and additional costs due to: procurement delays for internationally sourced materials (due to factory or port closures) delays in domestic manufacturing due to international supply chain issues unavailability of foreign labour caused by restrictions on labour entering New Zealand (or being quarantined

Mitigating the Cyber Security and Privacy Risks from COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

The spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand presents a range of additional cybersecurity and privacy challenges. As organisations implement contingency plans to protect employees and limit the spread of the virus through allowing or, in some cases, requiring employees to work remotely, businesses should be mindful of the heightened risk of data breaches or other cyber incidents. There is also the potential for substantial financial loss, reputational harm, and legal exposure...

Business Disruption Insurance and COVID-19
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

Businesses that suffer losses because of disruption caused by COVID-19 will be considering whether they may be able to make claims under their insurance policies...

COVID-19 Consequences for Contracts – Now and in the Future
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

With the disruption to business caused by COVID-19, it is timely to consider your contractual position both for contracts that are “on foot” as well as your future contracting position. “On foot” contracts For customers and suppliers alike, delays or non-performance of obligations are an inevitable result of COVID-19...

COVID-19 Health and Safety Obligations
MinterEllisonRuddWatts, March 2020

While infectious diseases are not a unique risk to the workplace, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) should be taking sensible, measured steps to respond to, and manage, the risk to workers and others in the workplace.Under New Zealand’s health and safety legislation, PCBUs owe a primary duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the safety of workers and others in the workplace or affected by its work...



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