December 2019

CEO Update: Six legal trends in the year ahead

Mark Twain once said that prediction is difficult - especially when it involves the future.

That’s particularly true for the law, which is shaped, in large part, on past precedent.

Our team at Bartier Perry however spend time thinking about what developments are on the horizon that could impact our clients. And as one year comes to an end and a new one begins we’ve brought some of that thinking about future trends together.

Some of these trends I’ve touched on before but we think you’ll be hearing a lot more about all of these six developments in 2020 and beyond.

Under each of these summaries we’ve also put in a link to read a more detailed analysis.

On my own topic of remuneration transparency, this comes, not from a legal perspective but rather a summary of perspectives I’ve given when speaking at industry events.

And every piece is written in the expectation there will be different views. Something that should always be welcome.

So in no particular order the six trends we see are:

1. A rise in family business disputes as generational succession gets messy

Australia is about to face the battle of the bulge when it comes to intergenerational family business succession, writes our private clients partner Chris Tsovolos.

Within the next 10 years close to four million retiring baby boomers will take part in the largest ever exodus from the Australian workforce.

And with close to two thirds of Australia’s 2.1 million workplaces classified as family owned, just how orderly this demographic bulge of boomers exit their businesses could have a profound impact on our economy.

Read Chris’ piece here

2. Modern Slavery emerges as a major reputational issue

As corporate partner Michael Cossetto highlights, the vast majority of Australian companies want to do the right thing in ensuring there is no use of forced labour across their global supply chains.

However a lack of clarity in newly introduced legislation could put companies at risk.

Read Michael’s piece here

3. Professional negligence claims to soar as Royal Commissions and Inquiries put the spotlight on culture and behaviour

We are living in an age of inquiries, where some of our most trusted institutions are being put under the microscope, writes partner Katherine Ruschen.

In the last three to four years we've seen an upsurge in complaints against financial, legal, health and other professionals as consumers and clients become more aware of their rights.

Of course many of these complaints will be without foundation but that will make them no less stressful to manage.

Read Katherine’s piece here

4. The death of the holiday timeshare

Many of us will remember the hard-sell seminars we attended (often as bored kids) pitching us the concept of owning your own little slice of paradise, writes partner Gavin Stuart.

But an increasingly uneconomic and unpopular model means timeshare days may be numbered. But exactly how do you unwind an agreement between 500-plus people?

Read Gavin’s piece here

5. Algorithms get taken to court by disgruntled workers

Artificial Intelligence was seen as the perfect unbiased recruiter, writes Workplace Law & Culture partner Darren Gardner.

Now even some of the world’s biggest technology companies are quietly shutting down their AI recruitment programmes after algorithms excluded candidates on the basis of gender. But as AI gains greater dominance in our working lives could employee's ire switch from a human boss to machines with increasing sway over their day to day supervision?

Read Darren’s piece here

And finally…

6. In a bid to close the gender pay gap remuneration transparency becomes law

Men still out-earn women by an average $25,679 a year and that compensation chasm only grows the further up the ladder you go.

To end this, NSW Women Lawyers Association are among those driving the debate about Australia adopting the UK model of remuneration transparency.

Since 2017 it has been mandatory for UK companies with 250 plus employees to publish and report on pay equity or their ‘pay gap’ each year. But is that such a good idea?

You can read my piece here

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.


Author: Riana Steyn