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2609, 2017

10 Tips to Limit Risk and Avoid Litigation

By |September 26th, 2017|

When people hear I am a litigation lawyer, their response is usually “well, we won’t need you!”.

We all know litigation can be expensive, unpredictable, time-consuming and distracting. However, litigation lawyers are best placed to provide the right advice to protect your business (or clients) from costly litigation. This advice is best obtained before a dispute arises.
Whilst completely avoiding potential litigation is unlikely, here are some quick tips you can easily implement within your business to reduce the risk:

1. Know your business partners/clients

Make sure you understand your business partners’ and clients’ intentions and properly gauge their ability to perform. If you’re entering into business with friends or family, do not romanticise the relationship – when things go bad, it’s often every man/woman for themselves!

If you don’t know your business partners/clients, then ask around. Make discreet enquiries in the business community about their reputation. Background checks (including financial and technical capabilities) can […]

906, 2017

Acquiring Interests in Property Worth More than $750,000? Get a Tax Clearance Certificate

By |June 9th, 2017|

Last year the Government introduced the Foreign Resident Capital Gains Tax Withholding measures.

These measures were framed so that from 1 July 2016, a person acquiring interests in:

  • Land, or
  • Interests in a company or trust that owns land,

valued at $2 million or more from a non-resident needed to pay tax equal to 10% of the value of the land or the interests in the company or trust to the ATO.

In the Budget on 9 May 2017, the Government changed the rules to reduce the threshold at which tax would need to be withheld from $2,000,000 to $750,000. The Government also increased the rate of withholding to 12.5%.

The Government announced that these changes will come into effect on 1 July 2017.

The Government has introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Resident Capital Gains Withholding Payments) Bill 2017 (Bill) to give effect to these changes. The Bill has been referred to a Senate committee that […]

906, 2017

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock: The Transfer Balance Cap Countdown is On!

By |June 9th, 2017|

With 1 July 2017 fast approaching, many accountants and advisers are working feverishly to help clients needing to act before then to ensure they do not exceed the $1.6 million transfer balance cap. Requests are being made to the trustee of their self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) to commute some or all their pension phase superannuation income stream(s), and, either roll them over as an accumulation interest within the SMSF, or, withdraw them from the SMSF as a lump sum payment.

In theory, commuting amounts from pension phase is simple (i.e. pension balance(s) less $1.6 million equals the amount to be commuted). However, most SMSFs do not operate on real time reporting so a member will not know the amount of their pension balance(s) until well after 30 June 2017 – thereby making the task of determining the exact amount that needs to be commuted from pension phase under the new […]

3105, 2017

Changes to Victorian Taxes

By |May 31st, 2017|

With all the noise around the recent Federal Budget it is easy to forget changes announced in the Victorian State Budget, many of which are due to apply from 1 July 2017. As some of these changes are not favourable, clients have less than a month to utilise the current position. We summarise some of the main changes below.

  1. The exemption from stamp duty for a transfer of property between spouses will be abolished from 1 July 2017. The principal place of residence will continue to be exempt and so will a transfer due to the breakdown of a relationship. So, anyone wishing to make use of the current exemption needs to act quickly.
  2. The off the plan duty concession is being abolished from 1 July 2017. It will still be available to a purchaser who occupies the property as their principal place of residence.
  3. A vacant residential property tax of 1% will […]
803, 2017

Contesting a Will

By |March 8th, 2017|

The Victorian Supreme Court recently handed down its decision in the in the Matter of the Will of Edward James Lynch. Bernie O’Sullivan Lawyers successfully acted for the defendant in this case.


In 2007 the deceased was admitted to hospital with chest pains. Whilst in hospital he completed several pieces of paper, one comprised a list of names and amounts next to each name and another referred to a last will and nomination of an executor. Despite recovering and going on to live for a further 8 years, the deceased did not make a new will during that period.


The two pages had not been signed, dated and witnessed in a manner that complies with the formal requirements of the Wills Act 1958 (“the Act”). However, the Act contains a remedial provision which enables the Court to accept a document as a will even though those formal requirements have […]

803, 2017

Shareholder Agreements – Who Needs Them?

By |March 8th, 2017|

The answer is: “Any private company with more than one shareholder”.

Suppose you are a minority shareholder in a company and the company is being run in a way that does not take account of your interests.
Or suppose you and another person are equal shareholders in a company but the other shareholder is not contributing as much as you are.

What do you do?

You refer to the Shareholders Agreement of course. But wait – you haven’t got one. That was something you always intended to deal with but you never got around to it. You wouldn’t get into a car you knew had faulty steering and no brakes. Investing in a private company without a well-drafted shareholders’ agreement is like getting into an unroadworthy car. You may reach your destination of financial success. But you are taking a real risk. You may end up having a very unpleasant and […]

803, 2017

Duty Be Gone: Duty Exemptions and Restructuring

By |March 8th, 2017|

Often duty can be an impediment to undertaking a restructure. However, the Duties Act contains a number of exemptions that can apply to reduce what otherwise would be a significant cost. Sometimes a combination of exemptions can be applied, or maybe a number of transactions need to be undertaken in a particular order, to achieve the desired result.

Recently, we were asked to advise our clients as part of the winding up of their parents’ estates. Each family member wanted to go their own way, but the way the properties were owned and the terms of the parents’ wills made that very difficult.

Our clients sought our assistance in transferring various properties into trusts from a company. Normally such transfers would be subject to duty.

However, by using our knowledge of the Duties Act, and in particular of various exemptions, we were able to undertake some pre-sale […]

803, 2017

Superannuation Reform: Re-thinking Death Benefit Payments & Reversionary Pensions

By |March 8th, 2017|

Legislation implementing the Government’s Superannuation Reform Package passed through Parliament late last year. Most changes are set to apply from 1 July 2017 and will impact, among other things, the payment of superannuation death benefits and reversionary pensions. Understanding how the changes will affect death benefit payments and reversionary pensions is critical to enabling you to help your client review their death benefit payment plans and/or reversionary pension plans, discuss potential issues and even determine how to restructure such plans to ensure the desired outcome can still be achieved.

This article covers the following areas with practical tips to assist you:

  • Cashing of superannuation benefits on death
  • Form of death benefit payments to pension dependants
  • The new transfer balance cap
  • Death benefit pensions and the TB Cap
  • Modifications for reversionary pensions
  • Roll-over of death benefits
  • Modifications on TB cap for child dependants
  • Considering a testamentary trust for death benefits paid out of the superannuation system


1. Cashing of Superannuation Benefits […]