National unfair terms protections to be extended to small business – Do your standard-form contracts contain unfair terms?
The Federal Government has recently introduced The Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Bill 2015 (the Bill) into parliament, as the expression of its 2013 election promise to provide a ‘fair go’ for small businesses. The effect of the Bill will be to extend the national unfair contract term protections currently afforded to consumers, to small businesses.
These new national protections will cover standard form contracts as they apply to small businesses. The result will be that a court will be able to strike out any contractual terms that it deems to be unfair. Examples of unfair terms are automatic renewal clauses and clauses that allow one party to unilaterally vary terms.
Electronic signature are a valid method of executing agreements according to Australian and international law.
Troubles arise when evidence is required to confirm the identity of the signor and their intention to be bound.
There are digital signature tools which can mitigate these risks but they are not 100% full proof and there are still additional important issues to consider. These digital signature tools incorporate technically accepted identity verification and authentication methods such as public key cryptography.
Always be mindful that there may arise a need to prove the validity of an electronic signature should an agreement be challenged. The key to this is ensuring that all parties register their digital signatures with a CA and can access an effective auditing system.
When can a tenancy come to an end?
- At the conclusion of a fixed term agreement
- Notice of a breach can also bring an agreement to an end
- Landlords can terminate a tenancy agreement during a periodic tenancy
Who can provide notice to terminate the agreement?
- Both the tenant and landlord can provide notice to terminate
- If the tenant wants to terminate because landlord has refused to make repairs, the tenant cannot simply stop paying rent. However, they can initiate termination proceedings under such circumstances.
Can the landlord take possession of the property if the tenant is in breach?
- The landlord cannot take immediate possession
- If the tenant commits a breach, there are still certain protections afforded them.
- If the breach has been failure to pay rent, the breach must have been committed for a specific period of time (usually 14 days) before the landlord can initiate termination procedures.
The landlord must have a legitimate justification of terminating the agreement