October 2020

CEO Update: Simplicity and proactivity – law in the time of COVID

The law and our legal system have been incredibly progressive in facing the challenges of COVID-19.

A raft of new legislation and regulations spanning commercial rental relief to a pause on bankruptcies, has underpinned the national response to the economic damage the virus has brought.

Our commercial courts have also seamlessly gone online.

However the risk for many businesses is they don’t keep up with, or are not across, all the changes that are happening.

That’s understandable given the societal and personal shake-up our lives have faced this year together with the sheer volume of changes businesses need to get their heads around.

It’s tempting then for Directors or executives in particular to put things on the backburner, be it a tough discussion with a landlord or tenant over rents or a longer term plan on how a business can best trade its way out of financial difficulties.

As a number of the Bartier Perry team have highlighted in the media in recent months, delay could come at significant cost be it employee claims or rental disputes.

One way we’ve been seeking to support our clients is through explaining the large number of COVID-19 related changes occurring in concise and plain language while setting out what steps to take now.

Our Demystifying Insolvency publication is an example of that with the team pointing out that delaying action this year could see Directors and businesses not afforded the protection of new insolvency protections being enacted in 2021.

Another way we are supporting clients is through testing new legislation or regulation in the courts so that they’re not disadvantaged.

Recently appointed partner Adam Cutri made national headlines when his client Sneakerboy successfully challenged a store eviction and in the process saw all retailers given more scope on rental relief arrangements.

Had Sneakerboy simply accepted the status quo they would have been at a significant disadvantage as a business.

So simplicity and proactivity are two traits that Bartier Perry will be focusing on in working with our clients to get through these tough times.

And of course some good old fashioned dogged persistence.

Our Partner Sharon Levy was recently asked to take a last ditch appeal focused around New South Wales strata laws.

The case taken by our client Jo Cooper to keep her beloved dog Angus in her apartment ended with a unanimous Court of Appeal decision in her favour that again made national headlines. 

That decision is set to have far wider implications for strata-committees, owners corporations and apartment owners. You may like to view our recent webinar.

But for now the outcome has delighted Jo and (we believe) Angus.

Keep safe.

Author: Riana Steyn