Articles

Commercial and Contract Disputes

Electronic Signing of Contracts

Part 4 of the Contracts and Commercial Law Act 2017 ("CCLA") provides that, with some few exceptions, where a signature is required by law (including to conclude a contract) you can sign that document electronically provided certain conditions are met. An electronic signature is defined in the CCLA as a method used to identify a person and to indicate that person's approval of that information.
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Construction Contracts: Contractual Framework for Navigating Through Covid-19 Alert Level 4 (NZS 3910:2013, NZS 3915:2013, NZS 3916:2013 & NZS 3902:2004)

Parties to construction contracts, especially those contractors (and subcontractors) who are engaged to carry out particular contract works by an agreed due date for completion, may be exposed to penalties or "liquidated damages" if unable to carry on or complete those works during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.
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Frustration, Force Majeure and Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic and the announcement of the Level 4 Covid-19 threat level in New Zealand has meant that many businesses may be forced to default on their commercial obligations, especially as non-essential businesses are told to close. However if their contracts contain a "force majeure" provision, this may provide them with a way out.
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Mainzeal: Reckless Trading

In Mainzeal1 the former directors were held liable for a breach of section 135 of the Act. Richard Yan, (who was the founder and main shareholder of Mainzeal's parent company, Richina Pacific) was ordered to pay compensation of $36M. Each of the other directors (Shipley, Tilby and Gomm) were held liable to contribute $6M each towards that $36M.
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Section 131: Duty of Directors to Act in Good Faith and in Best Interests of Company

In accordance with Section 131 of the Companies Act 1993 ("Act"), directors have a duty to act in good faith and in what they genuinely believe to be the best interests of the company. While it may be expected that directors should always behave in such a manner, and not place their personal interests ahead of the company's, various judgments have explored the extent of this duty and provided more information about the considerations director should take account of when exercising their powers.
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Company Law Case Summary: Mike Pero Mortgages Limited v Mike Pero [2016] NZHC 3185 per Katz J

Mike Pero was the sole director of MPRE Limited and its wholly owned subsidiary MP Real Estate Limited (the MPRE Companies), companies described in the decision as a joint venture between a company ultimately owned by Mike Pero that held a 50% stake and MP Mortgages Limited which held the other 50% stake.
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Directors' Duties - What Directors Need to Know

In New Zealand, there are few prohibitions on who can become a director of a company, and no real qualification requirements. This means that some people become directors without actually understanding what their role requires. This can result in a company not being managed and governed as required by the Companies Act 1993 ("Act"), which in turn can lead to a breach of duty, which can have very serious consequences, up to and including personal liability for company debts or even criminal sanctions in the worst of cases.
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Section 135 of the Companies Act - Reckless Trading:

Non-Executive or Passive Directors and Directors' Duties: The Courts Take no Excuses for a "Hands Off" Approach
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Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017

Passed on 1 March 2017, the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 ("CCLA") represents a step taken by our Parliament to consolidate and modernise New Zealand's law relating to contracts and sales. The CCLA will come into force on 1 September 2017.
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The New Health and Safety at Work Act

Commenced on 4 April 2016, the new Health and Safety at Work Act ("the Act") replaced the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 which overhauled the way businesses and organisations must implement their health and safety policies. The HSWA also put in place a new statutory regime to enforce compliance obligations.
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