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Our legal experts will keep you up to date on all relevant and current developments.

Unconscionability in Provision of Financial Services

The recent Federal Court of Australia decision in Australia Securities and Investments Commission v Westpac Banking Corporation (Omnibus) [2022] SCA 515, in which Westpac was penalised an amount in excess of $113M, was informative in respect of the way that the Court will proceed in assessing the conduct of financial service providers.

This article is not intended to traverse all the matters considered in that case, but will instead discuss the way the Federal Court approaches issues of unconscionability in the provision of financial services and products, in light of the principles in section 12CC of the Australian Securities and Investments Commissions Act 2001.


Case Note Update: Qantas Airways Limited v Transport Workers’ Union Australia [2022] FCAFC 71

In August 2021, Holman Webb published an article highlighting the decision in Transport Workers Union of Australia v Qantas Airways Limited [2021] FCA 873, in which a single Judge of the Federal Court of Australia found that Qantas had engaged in adverse action in contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009, in deciding to make its ‘below the wing’ staff redundant.

Case Note: Transport Workers Union of Australia v Qantas Airways Limited 2021 FCA 873

The Trial Judge found that Qantas could not prove a negative - that the substantive and operative cause of the airline’s decision to make the staff redundant was not to prevent the workers exercising a workplace right. The workplace right was identified as the ability to negotiate a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement in the 6 months following the redundancy. 

Qantas appealed that decision, and the appeal has now been determined.  The Full Court of the Federal Court delivered its judgment in the matter of Qantas Airways Ltd v Transport Workers’ Union of Australia [2022] FCAFC 71 on 4 May 2022, dismissing the Appeal. 


Ignore Cyber Protection – Pay the Price: Australian Securities and Investments Commission v RI Advice Group Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 496

It has happened: a company that failed to implement proper cyber security measures in Australia has been taken to court by the regulators, with the company ordered to pay costs of $750,000.

In the matter of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission v RI Advice Group Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 496, the Court found that a financial services provider had breached its licence obligations, and failed to act efficiently or fairly by not having in place adequate risk management systems to cater for risks arising in relation to cyber security.


Trade Creditors - How to Prepare for an Insolvency Uptick

The pandemic has significantly impacted the way in which a trade creditor will interact with its customers, particularly when it comes to demanding payment from them. In many cases, a credit officer will do his or her job well by working with those customers who have been experiencing financial difficulty and collecting payment, including by way of instalments over time.

Conversely, up until recently, the ATO’s collection activity has been almost non-existent since the pandemic began in 2020. Around early April 2022, the ATO wrote to over 50,000 directors giving them 21 days’ notice to pay their tax liabilities, failing which a Director Penalty Notices may be issued.

This has been seen as a ‘warning letter’ on the part of the ATO.


Litigation Update: When can direct claims for loss be brought by shareholders, and when can a plaintiff claim travel beyond the pleaded claim?  Garner v Central Innovation Pty Limited [2022] FCAFC 64

The Full Court of the Federal Court recently handed down its decision in Garner v Central Innovation Pty Limited [2022] FCAFC 64, a case about misuse of confidential information.  In its decision, the Court made numerous important observations concerning how claims should be advanced, and how litigation should be pursued.

This article will focus on what the Court stated in respect of:

  • Whether a Plaintiff ought to be confined expressly to the matters it has pleaded, or whether it can advance claims outside of the pleadings where notice is provided to the Defendant; and
  • The circumstances under which a claim for loss can be brought by shareholders of a company, and/or whether the company should bring it.

Eight lawyers included in The Best Lawyers in Australia, and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Australia 2023

Holman Webb is pleased to announce that eight lawyers have been included in the 2023 Edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia, and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Australia.


Federal Court confirms that a patent applicant, owner and inventor must be a natural person: Thaler v Commissioner of Patents [2021] FCA 879

Readers may recall Holman Webb’s September 2021 article ‘The Future of Artificial Intelligence - Can AI invent software?, which reported on a landmark judgement by Justice Beach of the Federal Court in the matter of Thaler v Commissioner of Patents [2021] FCA 879, which determined that under Australian law, artificial intelligence could be listed as the inventor in relation to an application for a patent

Readers may also recall that the Commissioner of Patents appealed that decision.

That decision has now been overturned by the Full Court of the Federal Court, in a unanimous judgement which brings Australia into line with most other jurisdictions around the world.


Enhanced compliance obligations on insurers, scheme agents and self-insurers within the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme, and the need for compliance review

The NSW Government has recently proposed the State Insurance and Care Legislation Amendment Bill 2022.

The Bill proposes to extend certain regulatory, investigative and enforcement powers of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority to oversee and control iCare, self‑insurers and claims agents appointed pursuant to the workers compensation legislation.

If passed, the Bill will heighten the need for iCare, self-insurers, and claims agents to ensure compliance with the regulatory licensing requirements, and to ensure that where a breach occurs, steps are taken to:

  • rectify the breach;
  • give an appropriate undertaking; and to
  • ensure that no further breaches occur.

The proposed amendments were made in line with the McDougall review recommendations with the goal of improving outcomes for all stakeholders


Sexual Harassment Update in the Fair Work Commission

A recent decision of Deputy President Beaumont in the Fair Work Commission (Application by Ranmeet Kaur [2022] FWC 487) has examined the scope of the FWC’s power to make orders to stop sexual harassment which were introduced under amendments to the Fair Work Act in 2021.

The case examined both the jurisdictional requirements necessary for the FWC to make orders and the evidentiary requirements for it to be satisfied that a contravention had occurred, warranting the making of orders.


The importance of maintaining corporate records with ASIC: Energy Resources of Australia Limited [2022] FCA 176

The Federal Court of Australia’s recent judgment in the matter of Energy Resources of Australia Limited [2022] FCA 176 demonstrates the risks to resigning company directors when they, or the company, fail to notify ASIC of their resignation in a timely manner – as well as the consequent time, effort and costs needed to rectify these failures.

The decision is also a reminder that retiring directors wishing to avoid personal responsibility for a company’s conduct need to notify ASIC promptly and effectively.


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