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DP O’Keefe Macquarie Law is a legal office in Dubbo NSW Australia.

Dan O’Keefe is an experienced solicitor, accredited business law specialist, mediator and notary public.

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Accountant held liable as a third party accessory to client's fair work breaches

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) a person who is involved in a contravention of a civil remedy provision can be liable for the contravention as an accessory. Ignorance of the law is no defence.

Last year the Fair Work Ombudsman said, "So far this financial year nearly every matter we have filed in court - 94% in fact - has also roped in an accessory".

There have been a number of cases where individuals have been liable for corporate contraventions e.g. a business manager fined for underpayment breaches; an employment development manager fined for underpayment on a termination notice; a payroll officer fined for underpayment of entitlements; and an OH&S manager fined for changing employees contracts.

However, in a first, in a récent case a third party accounting firm that provided payroll services was held to be liable for a contravention. The firm failed to ensure their MYOB software reflected the current award rates. Instead of making enquiries of their client they deliberately shut their eyes to possible award breaches.

The author of the article referred to below suggests that "in order to minimise exposure to liability as an accessory, third party advisers are encouraged to scrutinise their client's compliance with workplace laws".

(See article by Katrina Seck in Law Society Journal Issue 35 July 2017)

Changes to grants & stamp duty concessions announced by State government

This was a pre-State budget announcement. The details of the changes to the new home and first home grant and stamp duty schemes have yet to be released. Below is a summary which will need to be checked against the actual measures once released.

A couple of things to note at this point is that the new home grant that was available to any purchaser (not just first home buyers) will end on 30 June 2017. From 1 July 2017 first home owners will be entitled to a grant and stamp duty exemption up to certain limits for new or existing homes (which is what applied a few years ago). It was not clear from the announcement if the stamp duty exemption will apply to vacant land purchased to build (it has in previous years).

Check the details of the changes at the Office of State Revenue website. Here.

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