Litigation

UPDATE – COVID-19 and the Government’s new Commercial Lease Code of Conduct – the role of the Small Business Commissioner in South Australia

Earlier this month we reported on the Federal Governments’ new Mandatory Code of Conduct http://National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct setting out a framework that will apply to many commercial leases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPDATE: the role of the Small Business Commissioner in SA

In the state of South Australia, the binding mediation contemplated under the Mandatory Code of Conduct is to be operated by the Small Business Commissioner under section 8 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020, who can exercise various powers under the Fair Trading Act 1987 in relation to either the mediation of the dispute, or a determination as to whether the lessee is suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/COVID-19%20EMERGENCY%20RESPONSE%20ACT%202020/CURRENT/2020.7.AUTH.PDF)

Any determination made by the Small Business Commissioner about whether the lessee is suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 can be appealed to the Magistrates Court of South Australia. The Magistrates Court can make orders staying various prescribed activities by the lessor that the Code of Conduct contemplated halting during the pandemic.

The mediation process of the Small Business Commissioner takes three steps, including initial assistance and pre-mediation at no cost to the parties, and setting up an external mediation at the cost of $195 per party, per day of that mediation process. (https://www.sasbc.sa.gov.au/dispute_resolution/overview)

If you believe you might be eligible for a rent reduction due to reduced turnover or you or are facing lost rent from a commercial tenant, call Ezra Legal today to book a meeting to discuss how we can help you negotiate the right outcome for your business.

Having an experienced commercial lawyer provide you with tailored legal advice and prepare the right agreement for you will help your business be in the best shape it can be in when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

These are difficult times for everyone. We want to do our bit to try and reduce your stress if we can. So if you have a problem and you need some legal help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re still open and working hard to resolve issues for our clients.

Call us on 08 8231 6100 or email reception@ezralegal.com.au.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind Regards,
Michael Fabbro, Principal

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