Website privacy falling short
Your business website is a powerful tool for engaging potential and existing customers, and for collecting useful data. Where information collected is personal information, however, you have obligations under the Privacy Act 1993. The legislation contains 12 Privacy Principles which regulate how you collect, use, disclose and store personal information.
The Privacy Commissioner’s website has a free online tool called ‘Priv-o-matic’ which can generate a simple privacy statement; find it here. Otherwise, if you are unsure whether your current or proposed website privacy notice or policy is adequate, do talk with us.
Amendments to cartel laws tighten up on anti-competitive behaviour
Recent changes to the Commerce Act 1986 have been introduced to promote competitive behaviour and provide clarity around competition law. The Commerce Act prohibits anti-competitive behaviour such as price fixing. As well, the changes broaden the scope of the definitions relating to other prohibited cartel activities including output restrictions and market allocation. This change aligns New Zealand’s competition law with Australia and other jurisdictions.
In addition, the changes introduce new exemptions to what would typically be considered cartel arrangements. These exemptions recognise that the extended definition of cartel behaviour now captures otherwise legitimate business relationships between suppliers and distributors that are also competitors. Two exemptions include certain collaborative activities and vertical supply contracts, provided specific criteria are met.
The changes also introduce a clearance mechanism where parties contemplating collaborative conduct can obtain prior approval from the Commerce Commission.
If you have any concerns about how these changes might affect your arrangements, please contact us.
Another hefty fine under new health and safety laws
Health and safety in the workplace has been brought into the spotlight over the past decade to refocus employers’ attention to ensure the safety of their staff. There have been a number of judgments under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, of which two stand out.
August 2017 saw the Budget Plastics case which clearly showed employers how the Health and Safety at Work Act would be applied by the courts, and the consequence of non-compliance. We have some commentary on this here.
In October there was another decision where an employee suffered serious injuries after falling through a false ceiling. The court noted that the hazard was obvious and was ‘easily and cheaply remedied’. Rangiora Carpets Limited received a discount on its fines for its previous good record and guilty plea; the final amounts payable were a $157,500 fine (to be paid over two years), $20,000 for reparation and $1,228 for costs.
These cases show that the courts are not afraid to impose hefty fines where they are satisfied that the Health and Safety at Work Act has been breached.
Hazardous substances in the workplace: On 1 December 2017 the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations came into effect. The regulations contain rules around managing substances that affect human health and safety in the workplace. Go here for more information.
Multinationals tax legislation introduced
New tax laws are being introduced to prevent multinationals from avoiding tax by shifting profits out of New Zealand. The Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill will affect multinationals operating in New Zealand and overseas.
The measures will be aimed at addressing:
- Multinationals that use artificially high interest rates on loans from related parties to claim tax deductible expenses
- Arrangements that exploit differences between two or more countries’ tax rules to pay less tax
- Artificial arrangements to avoid having a permanent establishment, thus avoiding a taxable presence in New Zealand, and
- Transactions with offshore group members that do not reflect the actual economic activities the multinationals are undertaking in New Zealand and offshore.
The new measures will see New Zealand’s tax laws regarding cross-border transactions become more aligned with those in Australia and are generally consistent with OECD recommendations.
If the Bill is passed in its current form, it’s expected that many of the proposed changes will come into force to align with the income years beginning on or after 1 July 2018.