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Farewell to Rob Wills

It is with sadness that we announce Rob Wills will be retiring from the firm early next year.

Rob is much loved by clients and staff alike.   His zest for squeezing the most out of life is infectious.

Rob joined Haigh Lyon as a partner in 1992 having previously been a partner at another firm.  Like Rob, his clients have been loyal, and followed him to the new firm.  He continued to advise on property, trust and commercial matters, and in the intervening 28 years he has never had a quiet patch.

He was even busier outside the office.  While raising and educating four children, Anna, Nicola, Julia and Jonathan, he somehow managed to find time to run, cycle and swim.  And he did this a lot!

Rob is a well-known figure at endurance events.  He completed the Coast to Coast three times, participated in numerous marathons including the New York Marathon – with a number of his family in tow, smashed three Ironman races and rode Alpe D’Heuz. He also represented New Zealand at three World Triathlon Championships, proudly captaining the team in Chicago.

As many of you know, it is not unusual to see Rob running or biking around Auckland on a Sunday, putting most of us, no matter what age, to shame with the energy and discipline he brings to his training.

He also continues to be an active member of Downtown Auckland Rotary, including a term as president.

The secret to fitting all this in?  Sleeping through law society seminars.  (Rob is famous for nodding off as soon as the presenter begins).  And a loving and supportive wife, Joanne; who is just as much a part of the staff as Rob.

The firm owes a lot to Rob, not only for his legal knowledge and fantastic clients, but also his mentoring and guidance. Haigh Lyon has a unique and supportive culture, and many clients will not be aware of the extra lengths Rob goes to;  whether it involves getting dressed up for a function, presentation of monthly staff awards or getting involved in firm activities like the corporate challenge. A few years ago, a staff member was moving to Australia, so we cleared away the desks, divided the staff into two teams and had a game of indoor cricket between Australia and New Zealand. We needed a surprise streaker so we secretly asked Rob.  In typical Rob fashion he quietly snuck out donned his speedos, a cape and a mask and ran out onto the ‘pitch’, to give a farewell hug.

Rob turned 70 this year, and is going to take some time to travel and hang out with his four grandchildren.  But we expect he’ll still be around the office anytime there’s a morning tea; though hopefully not in his speedos!

It might only be a matter of time before your farming operation is feeling the heat of a council prosecution…

If you haven’t been subject to one you are likely to know someone who has and, despite good intentions, it might be only a matter of time before your farming operation is feeling the heat of a council prosecution.

Unfortunately, they are something of an occupational hazard for farmers – particularly when it comes to the discharge of effluent in dairy farming.

Council prosecutions are nothing like a speeding ticket. The fines imposed by the courts can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and have the potential to cripple a business. Farmers should, therefore, have at least a basic understanding of the process and consequence of a council prosecution and know where to turn for help if they find themselves in the hot seat.

Council enforcement action begins with an investigation. That is the information-gathering stage where council officers try to confirm the nature and extent of suspected wrongdoing. Offending on farms often comes to the attention of council officers during routine monitoring of properties. Public complaints are another common way concerns are referred to councils.

Once a council has learned of suspected non-compliance its officers have legal powers to enter private property to collect information and evidence. One important exception, however, is that council officers are not authorised to enter private homes. If council officers want to do that they must apply to a court for an order or search warrant.

If, following an investigation, council officers are confident the evidence they have collected is sufficient to support a prosecution and that such a step is in the public interest, ie, worth ratepayers’ money, then formal charges will be filed in court against the alleged offender.

There are a number of charges available to councils under the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Building Act (BA). Common RMA charges include using land in breach of the district rules, usually doing something without a consent when one was required, and discharging contaminants into or onto water or land. The most common BA charge is doing building work without or not in accordance with a building consent.

For most offences under those acts councils do not need to prove a person or company intended to commit the offence. Usually, it is enough for a council to show that a person or company was responsible for the wrongdoing in terms of having caused or allowed the incident to happen. That does mean the ability to defend a charge is limited. Furthermore, if you or your company employs or contracts others to do work in relation to your property and they fail to comply with the law then you could also be liable for their offending.

There are certainly avenues for defending council prosecutions. Significantly, charges under the RMA and BA must be filed in court within six months of the council learning of the offending or within six months of the date when the council should have become aware of the offending. That could mean, for example, if council officers had been at a property for a building consent inspection and should have observed wrongdoing at the same time then the six month clock would start ticking even if the officers did not actually notice the issue at the time. Charges might also be defended on the basis the action or event triggering the offending was beyond your control and could not have been foreseen, eg, a natural disaster or sabotage.

More often than not council prosecutions are resolved by the person or company charged pleading guilty at an early stage in the proceeding. However, some prosecutions do go all the way to trial.

The usual consequence of pleading guilty or being found guilty of an RMA or BA offence is a fine. The maximum penalty for BA offences, such as building contrary to or without, a building consent is $200,0000 though the penalties actually imposed are generally at or below $20,000.

The most commonly charged RMA offences carry maximum penalties of a $300,000 fine and two years jail for an individual or a $600,000 fine for a company. Fines imposed for RMA offending are often significantly more than for BA offending. For example, fines in excess of $100,000 are not uncommon for offending concerning the discharge of dairy effluent.

Good legal representation at sentencing can be essential for ensuring the fine you are required to pay is reasonable. Individuals or companies pleading or found guilty of BA and RMA offending will also usually receive a conviction on their record. However, it is sometimes possible to apply for a discharge without conviction if it can be shown the consequences of conviction are out of all proportion to the seriousness of the offending. If such an application is successful it usually means you will still pay a fine but will avoid a conviction.

If you or your company are facing a council investigation or a full blown prosecution we recommend seeking urgent legal advice.

 

 

Thinking of buying an investment property?

As part of the government’s efforts to address the concerns around rising house prices, new tax rules on ring-fencing rental losses have been introduced.  The goal of the new rules is to improve housing affordability for owner-occupiers by reducing demand from property speculators and investors.

The new ring-fencing rules came into effect on 1 April 2019 and will impact 2020 income tax returns.

What do the rules mean?
Historically when a rental property made a tax loss for its owner, this loss was available to offset against the owner’s other income – income such as salaries and certain business profits – resulting in less taxable income, and less taxes paid overall.

The new ring-fencing rules mean this loss offset will no longer be available.  Any rental loss will carry forward into future years and will only be available for offset against future residential property related income.

This puts residential property losses into their own category, separate from other sources of income.

Who will be impacted?
The ring-fencing rules only apply to losses made from residential land, however there are a number of exemptions, as follows:

  • Property used mainly for business or farmland
  • Property subject to “mixed-used” asset rules (such as a holiday home that is sometimes used privately and sometimes rented out)
  • Entities that are in land-related businesses such as land development or land trading
  • Certain employee accommodation and properties owned by companies except close companies with less than 5 shareholders holding more than of 50% voting interests

What about the “bright-line test”?
The bright-line test defines profits from the sale of residential properties (main home exempted) bought after 29 March 2018 and sold within 5 years (or within two years if bought between 1 October 2015 and 29 March 2018), as generally taxable.

If you have ring-fenced property losses available at the time the bright-line profits occurred, then the losses can be used to reduce the profits.

Similarly, any loss made on a property sale subject to the bright-line test, will be ring-fenced and carried forward.  It will only to be available for offset against other residential property income.

How are the rules applied?
The default position is that the rules are applied on a ‘portfolio basis’ meaning losses from one property can be used to offset profits of another property, in the same ownership.  The alternative of isolating losses of one property from another is also available but it is unlikely to be recommended due to the additional compliance required, and the generally less favourable outcomes.

What about residential properties owned by trusts and companies?
Residential properties that fall under the ring-fencing rules will be impacted regardless of whether they are owned by trusts or companies.  Exclusions such as the main home exclusion will also still apply.

Look-through company (‘LTC’) structures where income/losses are transferred directly to shareholders are also impacted.  Shareholders can no longer offset LTC residential property losses against their other income.  Instead, the losses hold their form and will be ring-fenced as if they were generated by the shareholder directly.

The ring-fencing rules also cover situations where a company or trust ownership structure is used to circumvent the rules. An example might be the use of a personal loan to buy shares in a company that owns the residential property – separating the ring-fenced income from loan interest expense.  In this case if more than 50% of the company’s assets are residential properties then any income and expenses relating to the property are ring-fenced regardless of whether the expense is in the company’s name, or not.

This rule can extend to properties owned outside of New Zealand as well, meaning losses from overseas rentals might also be ring-fenced.

Conclusion
The ring-fencing rules are another reduction in the tax benefits previously available to property investors, following on from the removal of depreciation claims.  Over time we will see if the rules have a meaningful effect on property prices, or conversely a flow on cost to residential rents.

The information produced above should not be relied upon as tax advice. Tax advice should always be sought from a professional and tailored to your specific circumstances.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the changes please contact The Business Advisory Group on 09 300 6404

Before you sign the lease…

Houston we have a problem! To avoid such words after having signed an agreement to lease it is important that tenants get advice before signing the agreement.  Once an agreement has been signed it is binding and therefore difficult to negotiate any amendments.

Here are some tips that tenants should consider before entering into an agreement to lease:

Rent Reviews
Rent reviews play an important part in any lease. Look to limit exposure to large rent hikes. Reviews are undertaken through a market review or increased in line with CPI. A tenant should look to impose a cap on any increase e.g. no increase in rent should be greater than 2%.
Rent disputes are resolved by valuers and arbitration. To avoid these costs tenants may consider having CPI increases or fixed rent increases. However, the risk is that these increases will leap ahead of the market. It is often advisable to have a mixture of CPI reviews and market reviews.

Outgoings
Another large expense is outgoings. Outgoings are expenses that are incurred through the running of the premises and include such things as insurance, rates, utilities and service or maintenance contracts. The landlord will usually pay these costs and seek reimbursement from the tenant. Outgoings are often payable in addition to rent.
Tenants should review the list of outgoings carefully and undertake an inspection of the premises and the building services to ascertain whether they are in good repair. If anything needs fixing, the costs will often be passed on to the tenant as part of the outgoings.

Reinstatement Obligations
Tenants who are excited about taking on new premises often forget about their obligations when the lease ends. This oversight can be costly.
Leases often require a tenant to reinstate the premises to its original condition, which can be expensive. This can be resolved by the insertion of a clause in the agreement outlining that the landlord agrees that the tenant shall not be required to reinstate the premises at the expiry of the lease.

Guarantees
It is common for landlords to require a guarantee of some sort; either a personal guarantee from the directors or a bank guarantee.  Guarantors should be wary that if the lease is assigned their liability will continue until the next rent renewal. Accordingly we often recommend that any guarantee given, whether personal or bank, be limited to a certain period ranging between three and 12 months depending on the lease term.  This is something that needs to be inserted into the agreement to lease and is something that landlords commonly concede.

Lease incentives
Tenants should negotiate some form of incentive into a new lease but it can be tricky to know what is acceptable. It is important to remember the agent is working for the landlord and is therefore unlikely to advise a tenant as to how much they should be seeking or what form it should take. Examples of incentives are a rent free period or fit out contribution. Experienced property lawyers will know what is acceptable in the market and will be able to provide guidance.
Tenants should obtain tax advice as some incentives will be regarded as income and therefore might not be as valuable as they first seem.

These are just a few examples of where an experienced property lawyer can save a tenant money, and future headaches.

 

Seed Funding Options for Start-Ups

In the early stages of a start-up, founders typically seek to bootstrap (i.e. self-fund) their operations in order to preserve value through their hard work and expertise. At some stage, most start-ups will need a cash infusion to grow their business and take it to profitability. That’s where investors come in.

Before raising capital, it is important to understand the most common forms of seed investments: equity and convertible debt. Each form of funding has its own pros and cons, and is a better fit for certain situations than others.

Equity
Equity represents an ownership interest in the company.  While equity doesn’t provide as much certainty of repayment as compared to a loan, it gives the investor a greater chance of participating in the upside in a profitable company or a future sale.

The size of an investor’s shareholding in the company will be negotiated based on the amount of the investment and the agreed valuation of the company. It generally involves a compromise between the investor’s eagerness to invest in the company and the founder’s desperation to raise funds.

Equity typically takes the form of ordinary shares or preference shares.

Ordinary shares have various rights attached to them (such as voting and dividend rights), but they usually rank behind other securities in terms of priority.

Preference shares differ from ordinary shares because of the additional rights (preferences) that attach to them. They typically confer on the investor:

  • A liquidation preference, which entitles the investor to recover an additional amount (ahead of all ordinary shareholders) in a liquidation of the company; and
  • An entitlement to receive dividends in priority to the holders of ordinary shares; and
  • An ability to convert the shares into ordinary shares on a future exit.

Preference shares are typically used for more substantial investments as their terms are generally complicated and heavily negotiated.

Convertible Debt
A convertible debt instrument involves the company borrowing money from an investor in the expectation that the debt will convert into equity in the company in the future (such as after a capital raising or a sale event). It is essentially a mix of equity and debt.

Here is a basic example of how convertible notes work:

  • An investor invests $200,000 in a start-up by way of a convertible note.
  • The terms of the convertible note are a 20% discount and automatic conversion after a future capital raising exceeding $1 million.
  • When the next capital raising occurs at a $2 million valuation, the convertible note will automatically convert into equity.

Let’s assume the shares are issued for $1 per share.  As a 20% discount applies, the investor can use their $200,000 investment to purchase shares in the next funding round at the discounted rate of $0.80 per share. This gives the initial investor $250,000 worth of shares for the price of $200,000 (representing a 25% return).

Convertible debt has become a popular form of seed funding for a number of reasons.

  • Valuation: Issuing equity requires you to value your company. This can be a difficult exercise for a company in its early stages. A key advantage of a convertible note is that it doesn’t require the company to be valued until a larger equity round is raised.
  • Cost and speed: Convertible debt is simpler to document than equity financings. This means that they are generally less expensive and that funding rounds can be closed more quickly than equity raisings.
  • Control: Many founders are (naturally) concerned about relinquishing control of their company. Holders of convertible notes typically receive minimal control over the company (for instance, no veto rights or director appointment rights). This is especially helpful for start-ups wishing to undertake a further capital raising without investor interference.

As early stage investment is risky, investors often sweeten their deal by asking for a valuation cap. A valuation cap limits the price at which convertible notes will convert into equity. It is used to protect early investors in case the company’s value skyrockets in the next funding round. For instance, if the valuation cap is $1 million, but the company’s valuation at the next funding round is $1.5 million, then the amount invested will convert into equity at the $1 million valuation cap.

Summing Up
Every situation calls for a different type of investment structure.  It is important to understand the subtleties of the various structures and balance the particular needs of the company against the risks and rewards available to the investor.

Spousal Maintenance; How New Zealand Stacks Up

How do the New Zealand courts deal with spousal maintenance?
It is important to note that spousal maintenance in New Zealand (from one adult to support the other adult) is different to child support (for the children).

In New Zealand spousal maintenance is payable if, following separation, one party is unable to meet their reasonable needs. If that party can demonstrate that their inability to meet their reasonable needs arises because of one of the qualifying circumstances, then spousal maintenance may be payable by the other party.

The ‘qualifying circumstances’ are slightly different depending on whether the parties were married or in a de facto relationship but include things such as responsibility for care of children, standard of living during the relationship, earning capacity and the effect of the division of functions within the relationship. It is important to note that we have a ‘no fault’ system in New Zealand so it does not matter if one party behaved poorly in the course of the separation.

When considering an application for spousal maintenance, the court will look at the claiming party’s budget of their ‘reasonable needs’ together with the other party’s budget and what that person might reasonably be able to afford to pay.

In New Zealand, spousal maintenance is generally an interim measure and the recipient is obligated to take the necessary steps to support themselves within a reasonable period of time. The precise length of any necessary maintenance payment will largely depend on the circumstances of the parties involved. The obligation to pay maintenance in New Zealand ends when the receiving party enters into a new de facto relationship.

How does this differ from other countries?
Unsurprisingly, the law on this issue varies across boundaries. A few of the most noticeable differences arise in the USA and UK, including:

  • The qualifying circumstances and amount of maintenance payable; and
  • The length of time for which maintenance can be payable.

USA
In the USA, laws on alimony (as it is known) vary significantly across states. In some states, alimony is only awarded in marriages or civil unions of 10 years or longer and domestic violence can be a valid ground to make a claim. In some states, the person who was ‘at fault’ for the end of the relationship may be relevant (i.e. if the party claiming alimony had an affair, that may be a factor in deciding whether they should receive payment).

There are sometimes limits placed on the amount of maintenance payable, such as the lesser of $5,000 per month, or 20% of the paying party’s income.

Other states (such as New York) do not impose the same strict guidelines on qualifying circumstances or amounts of maintenance, and allow judges to make decisions that they consider best in the specific circumstances of the parties.

Across the USA, ‘temporary alimony’ continues to be the most common type of award, with the length of payments sometimes based on the length of the relationship. It is worth noting though, that ‘permanent alimony’ (i.e. payment for life) does exist in some states and is awarded in circumstances which are considered appropriate.

UK
In the UK, the qualifying circumstances for spousal maintenance and the way in which awards are calculated have similarities to New Zealand law. However, what is noticeably different, is the length of time which maintenance payments can continue for.

As is the case in the US, spousal maintenance can be paid for a fixed term (such as until the youngest child turns 18), or it can be payable for life (until the paying party dies). The latter are often coined ‘meal ticket for life’ orders and are widely reported on in the media. These awards appear to have become less common in the UK and the Courts have increasingly applied the ‘clean break’ principle which ends financial ties between separated parties at a point in time which is considered fair.

The 2015 UK case of Wright v Wright made headlines around the world after a Judge suggested that the ex-wife of a wealthy veterinarian should ‘get a job’ to help supplement the spousal maintenance she was receiving, now that the children were over 7 years of age.

Despite this, spousal maintenance in the UK is still considered one of the more generous across jurisdictions and ‘joint lives’ maintenance awards continue to be made. The question as to whether ‘joint lives’ orders are appropriate is hotly debated by lawyers and legal writers, with many calling for law reform in this area.

How does New Zealand measure up internationally?
Spousal maintenance in New Zealand is not as generous as some jurisdictions in terms of the length of time for which it is payable. The very broad and potentially lifelong obligations sometimes seen in the UK and USA, whilst not inconceivable under New Zealand Law, are extremely rare and would arguably be contrary to the spirit and intent of the Family Proceedings Act 1980, which governs spousal maintenance in New Zealand. There is an obligation on the receiving party to meet their own reasonable needs at some stage.

However, our law does ensure that the actual ‘reasonable needs’ of both the claiming party, and the paying party, are taken into consideration. Rather than applying limits to the amount of maintenance payable, each New Zealand case is decided based on the specific circumstances of the individuals involved.

We have expanded our litigation services

Haigh Lyon has expanded the litigation service available to its clients.

Nathan Batts has recently returned to our litigation team as a Senior Associate and is an experienced advocate. He has previously represented both the Crown and regulatory bodies in serious and complex prosecutions and enforcement action and has also acted for defendants in such proceedings.

As a result, we can now be of particular assistance to companies and individuals facing enforcement action from regulators involved with business operations as well as individuals charged by the Police. Examples of relevant regulators include local councils responsible for enforcing the Resource Management Act and the Building Act, WorkSafe responsible for enforcing health and safety laws, and the Commerce Commission responsible for enforcing fair trading laws. In addition, if you, or someone close to you, have the misfortune of being charged with offending by the Police – however serious – we can assist with resolving and, if necessary, defending such charges.

Alternatively, if you or your business would like advice to ensure that your conduct or operations are compliant with applicable legislation, we are able to provide you with such guidance.

Our expanded regulatory work now also covers online communications. Recent legislation has brought harassment protections up to date for the digital age. There are now effective legal options, including court orders that are available to respond to online harassment or abuse.

If you, a loved one, or your business are facing formal charges, some other enforcement action, or are simply being investigated for suspected non-compliance or offending, then we are well-placed to assist you and welcome your contact. Alternatively, we can assist if you are simply looking for advice or guidance in terms of complying with relevant regulations. In addition, if you or someone you care about are the subject of online abuse or harassment, this is not something you have to put up with – there are legal options available to you for shutting down such conduct and we can help.

If we can be of assistance please contact Nathan directly on 09 306 0608 or email him at nathan.batts@haighlyon.co.nz

Changes to Employment Law Legislation

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 was passed late last year, introducing a number of employment law changes aimed to restore protections for employees and strengthen the role of collective bargaining in the workplace. You may be surprised to find you are already familiar with many of the changes as they turn the law back to how it was as recently as 2015.

The 90 day trial period is now restricted to businesses with less than 20 employees. This change comes into effect on 6 May 2019 and protects employees from unjustified dismissal from the day they start a job. However if you are a larger business, you can continue to use probationary periods to assess an employee’s skills and suitability, but an employee can still raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal if they are dismissed during the probationary period.

The requirement to provide employees with prescribed rest and meal breaks has also been restored, with the number and duration depending on the hours worked. This change is aimed to benefit workplaces by helping employees work safely and productively.

If despite your best intentions you end up in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), the first remedy considered by the ERA will be reinstatement. However in reality this remedy is infrequently used due to most employees preferring to seek compensation rather reinstatement.

If you would like specific advice or guidance on the legislation changes, or assistance to review or update your employment agreements, please contact our Employment Team.

Recent Changes to Property Laws

A number of substantial changes to property laws this year have affected our clients and how we practice conveyancing. Before you look to expand your property portfolio, move house, or take your first step onto the property ladder, you should be aware of these changes and the impact they may have on your ability to succeed in the property market. These changes fall into four main areas:

  • Restriction on foreign ownership of property
  • Extension of the bright-line rule, affecting property taxation
  • Preventative measures to help tackle money laundering, requiring extensive verification of our clients
  • Modernisation of the Land Transfer Act

Restriction on foreign ownership of property

The Government’s restriction on overseas buyers of property in New Zealand is arguably the biggest change to property law this year and has no doubt been a hot topic of discussion around the dinner table in recent months.

The Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 came into play in October, with the effect of restricting foreign ownership of New Zealand residential land, and the intent of allowing New Zealander’s to shape the housing market.

Previously, foreign buyers have faced very few restrictions when purchasing property in New Zealand, unless the land was deemed ‘sensitive’ under the previous overseas investment regime. Now, all residential land is automatically sensitive and overseas buyers are restricted from buying residential land in New Zealand except in very specific circumstances.

One exemption we have already seen in action applied to a New Zealand resident who was deemed an ‘overseas person’ because they had been working overseas for more than a year. This New Zealand resident, come ‘overseas person’, was married to a New Zealand citizen, so they could rely on the relationship property exemption contained in the Overseas Investment Regulations.

The rules surrounding other exemptions can be complex, particularly where a trust or company, with ‘overseas persons’ as trustees or directors, is the purchaser.

The flow-on effect of the Overseas Investment Amendment Act is that every purchaser must now complete a Residential Land Statement before settlement can take place. This statement confirms that the purchaser is eligible to complete the purchase.

Extension of the bright-line rule

The bright-line rule is well-established legal jargon that previously stipulated the taxation on profits when a property was sold within two years of purchase (subject to certain exemptions). In March of this year however, the bright-line period was extended to five years.

We have only recently started to see the effects of the extended bright-line period. Property owners are having to complete cost-benefit analyses that weigh up holding on to their property for longer, versus selling earlier and accepting the tax consequences. We are yet to see the full effect that this extension will have on our clients.

Anti-Money Laundering

The introduction of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing Terrorism laws in 2013 was designed to make it harder for criminals to launder money. While these laws have applied to a range of different business sectors since 2013, they have been extended to encompass a wider range of services, including services offered by banks, law firms, accounting firms and come January, real estate agents.

Practically, this means more verification’s and checks to authenticate who you are, where you live, and perhaps the source of your funds and wealth. If you have visited your bank recently you may have noticed that they have asked for identify verification and proof of address, amongst other information. This can be confusing, and at times frustrating, especially when you have been a loyal customer for longer than you care to remember. These requirements are a direct effect of the more all-encompassing Anti-Money Laundering laws.

Now that law firms are subject to the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering laws, we too will need to verify and authenticate your details. Many of our clients have already completed these checks, ensuring compliance with the legislation, but if you call us for the first time in a while, don’t be surprised (or offended) if we ask you for this information.

With regard to property law, this legislation means we need to carry out certain verification’s and checks before we can complete settlement of any sale, purchase, refinance or other similar transactions.

Modernisation of the Land Transfer Act

When it comes to the legal transfer of land we have long been accustomed to the Land Transfer Act 1952. While the underlying land transfer system in New Zealand has not changed, the Land Transfer Act 2017 (effective as at 12 November 2018) heralded a much-needed modernisation.

The new Act recognises the modern ‘electronic dealings’ system we use to transfer land, has modernised some of the terminology in the Act, and has also introduced methods to minimise risk of fraudulent transactions.

Haigh Lyon Celebrates 90 Years

September marked the firm’s 90th anniversary and a function was held at the Northern Club to celebrate this monumental milestone.

Staff and friends of the firm were joined by distinguished members of the Judiciary and the Bar. Former partner and retired Chief Judge of the Employment Court Graeme Colgan gave an engaging overview of the history of the firm, touching on notable alumni including former Prime Minister David Lange, retired Judge Coral Shaw, Judge Richard Earwaker, the late John Haigh QC, employment lawyer Phillipa Muir and current president of the New Zealand Law Society, Kathryn Beck.

Current partner Gerard Molloy concluded with a humorous and insightful look to the future of law, including the role of the lawyer in the midst of artificial intelligence and the internet.

When Frank Haigh established the firm in 1928 he would never have imagined the size and shape of the firm 90 years on. In 1978 David Lyon partnered with Frank’s son John Haigh and thus, the firm as we know it today, Haigh Lyon, was born. From Frank’s one man band, Haigh Lyon now has five partners and over 40 staff.