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Allens Technology, Media & Telecommunications publications

Focus: Queensland Government responds to Costello audit report

The Costello Commission of Audit Report and the Queensland Government’s response last week could transform the State’s economy by recasting the way the Queensland public sector interacts with the private sector. Partner John Greig examines the main recommendations and the Government’s response.

Focus: New EU financial disclosure requirements for resources and logging sectors

Companies listed in the EU and large private companies in the EU that operate in the extractives and logging industries will need to report on payments made to host governments, both on a country and project basis, under a new EU legislative proposal that is part of a trend towards improving transparency in the extractives sector. Compliance costs will be significant and companies need to start preparing now, as Partner Anthony Patten, Senior Associate Dora Banyasz and Lawyer Raquel Dos Santos report.Â

Client Update: Telecommunications consumer protection report card

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has reported that Australia’s three largest telecommunications providers – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – have shown ‘encouraging’ levels of compliance with the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code a year after its introduction. Partner and TMT Sector Leader Niranjan Arasaratnam and Lawyer Amy Burton report on the effectiveness of the Code, the extent to which it is compelling telcos to implement initiatives that boost consumer confidence, and the flow-on impact on the regulation of internet service providers.

Allens insights: An emerging markets bonanza for Australian IT

Much has been written about – indeed entire election campaigns have been based on – how the mining boom is coming to an end, and the imperative for Australia to diversify its economy into other sectors. The debate has focused on a predicted decline in demand for our natural resources from emerging economies such as China and India.

Focus: Tipped off: the stockbroker, the client and their phone conversations

A recently released Supreme Court of Western Australia judgment illustrates the role that recorded telephone conversations can play in the investigation and prosecution of insider trading offences. Changes to telecommunications interception legislation in 2012 increased the scope for the use of recorded conversations in the enforcement of the insider trading law. Partner Matthew McLennan and Lawyer Roslyn Stein look at the case that flags a number of issues for companies that operate recording systems.

Client Update: Acceptance of class action funding reaches new heights

The Full Federal Court signalled a new level of acceptance of class action funding when it recently required that security for costs be provided in a series of related (and unfunded) class actions. Of particular interest is the court’s finding that a failure by the representative applicants to provide evidence as to why their claims were not commercially funded was a factor in favour of ordering that they provide security. This is the first time an order for security has been made in a class action that is not commercially funded and is another indication of the growing acceptance of third-party funding by the courts. Partner Jenny Campbell and Lawyer James Ebert report.

Focus: The ramifications of a Facebook rant

The Full Court of the Federal Court recently handed down its decisions on an appeal that highlights the dangers of making unsubstantiated social media comments. Partner Miriam Stiel and Lawyer Tracy Lu report on a long-running dispute where the court found personal Facebook posts constituted misleading or deceptive conduct.

Focus: Seeing red over yellow

The difficulty of registering a colour mark or word mark denoting a colour (that include issues of market place recognition) was highlighted by a recent set of appeals revolving around the use of the word ‘Yellow’ in a tussle between various business directory goods and service providers. Partner Sarah Matheson and Lawyer Tracy Lu report on a decision that provides some useful clarification on this complex issue.

Focus: Productivity Commission – third party litigation funding and contingency fees

The Productivity Commission’s draft report on its inquiry into Australia’s system of civil dispute resolution has now been released. The comprehensive review focuses on ways to constrain costs and promote access to justice. One of the areas the Productivity Commission is examining is Australia’s private funding for litigation regime, focusing on third party litigation funding and contingency fees. Partner Peter O’Donahoo, Senior Associate Tim Maxwell and Lawyer Simone Kaser report

Focus: The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement

Australia and Japan have recently concluded negotiations on an economic agreement which will reduce tariff barriers on the majority of Australian exports to Japan. In contrast to the recently concluded Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement, it does not include an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. Partner Peter O’Donahoo, Senior Associate Hilary Birks and Lawyer Anna McMahon report.

Client Update: Release of 3rd Edition Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations

The ASX Corporate Governance Council has released the 3rd edition of its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. Although the 3rd edition largely reflects the amendments proposed in the earlier consultation draft released in August 2013, a number of new amendments have been added that will have implications for listed entities’ corporate governance practices. Partner Robert Pick and Senior Associate Hannah Biggins discuss these key changes.

Focus: ALRC Final Report: ‘Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era’

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released its long-anticipated final report on serious invasions of privacy. The report proposes that a new statutory cause of action be implemented in a new stand-alone Commonwealth Act. If adopted, the proposal would have far reaching ramifications for investigative journalism in Australia and could also raise the spectre of class actions being brought against companies that have deliberately or recklessly mishandled their customers’ personal information. Partner Gavin Smith, and Lawyers William Coote and Brydon Wang assess the proposal and its consequences.

Focus: ATO rules on Bitcoin – not enough purchase to be money

The Australian Tax Office has released draft rulings stating their view that the digital currency, Bitcoin, is property and not money. Partner Gavin Smith, Associate David Rountree and Associate Tom Tian consider the potential consequences for Australian businesses using Bitcoin.

Client Update: Anti-corruption reforms: a view from the B20 Australia

Anti-corruption was high on the agenda at the B20 Australia summit recently held in Sydney. Allens Partner Rachel Nicolson, a director of the UN Global Compact Network Australia and convenor of its Anti-Corruption Leadership Group, attended the summit and provides an overview of the issues discussed.

Focus: Media control and ownership: (re)starting the discussion

A policy background paper on media control and ownership, released by the federal Department of Communications, aims to restart the discussion on media law reform. The paper does not draw conclusions or make recommendations, but adopts a deregulatory tone. Partner Ian McGill, Senior Associate Matt Vitins and Law Graduate Ben Murphy report.

Client Update: Foreign investment changes in Indonesia

Some Indonesian business sectors are closed to foreign investment,
while others are subject to foreign ownership limits. There have been some changes to these
foreign investment restrictions under Indonesia’s widely anticipated revised
Negative Investment List, which became effective on 24 April. The revisions reflect
the intention of the Indonesian Government to prepare for a more open economy
whilst preserving certain sectors for domestic investment. Overall, there has been
a liberalising trend, with a number of sectors becoming more open for foreign
investment. However, there are now some business sectors that are subject to
foreign investment limits for the first time, some that have become subject to
increased foreign ownership limits and some that have become closed to foreign
investment altogether.

Client Update: Peer-to-peer lending – a disruptive threat to banks?

One of the things we are very interested in at the moment is how peer-to-peer lending will develop in Australia, and how it could be a disruptive threat to banks. We’re not the only people who are interested though. On 4 December, it was announced that a powerful consortium comprising James Packer, News Corporation and Kerry Stokes had struck a deal to take a 25 per cent stake in SocietyOne. SocietyOne was launched in 2012 as Australia’s first peer-to-peer lending platform and also counts Westpac as one of its early stage investors. Partner Gavin Smith, Senior Associates Matt Vitins and Andrew Edington and Lawyer Michael Beaconsfield report on peer-to-peer lending, and how it is regulated in Australia.