New Business Legislation

New Year, New Legislation

The holiday period often provides business owners and managers the opportunity to reflect on their successes and upcoming challenges in the year ahead. The beginning of the year is also a great time to make sure that your business has the tools and foundation to continue to thrive. There were some important legislative changes last year and some new ones coming in 2018 that businesses need to be aware of to ensure success.

Legislative Changes

Towards the end of 2017 the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 came into force. The Act consolidates a number of commercial and business related statutes such as the Sale of Goods Act, Contracts (Privity) Act and Carriage of Goods Act. It applies to all commercial contracts entered into since 1 September 2017.

The Act makes “minor amendments to clarify Parliament’s intent and reconcile inconsistencies” but does not make substantive changes to existing law. Its real purpose is to make it easier for business owners to interpret and understand commercial legislation, keeping it in one easy to find place, and reflects current modern language.

On 1 January 2018 the Interest on Money Claims Act also came into force. It applies to any court or tribunal claim seeking monetary compensation. If businesses are conducting debt recovery proceedings themselves, or defending such claims, they need to ensure interest is claimed in accordance with the Act.

Phase two of the Anti-money laundering legislation will also come into effect later this year. This will affect accountants, real-estate agents, conveyancers and lawyers, and eventually some businesses dealing with expensive goods as well as customers of these businesses. The regulations impose significant compliance and reporting obligations. Affected businesses need to ensure that they are aware of their obligations and have procedures in place to comply with the changes.

The government has also signalled a raft of upcoming changes to employment law, which will likely be hastily introduced and impose additional obligations on businesses. Watch this space.

What do businesses need to do?

Businesses’ standard contracts, terms of trade and conditions of business are all likely to refer to legislation that no longer exists and is now covered by the Contract and Commercial Law Act. Unless reviewed annually, these documents are likely to be out of date.

The introduction of these new acts is a good opportunity for businesses to take stock, review their suite of agreements and terms to ensure that they are fit for purpose, comply with current legislation and provide the appropriate protection. You should also consider whether it is necessary to update any internal policies and procedures to ensure that employees are following best practice and your business is complying with its obligations.

Article written by James McDougall for Business Rotorua Now Magazine