How we helped business owners build and sustain strong business growth
- Our clients own a rapidly growing equipment hire business. To sustain this growth, they needed to ‘clean up’ and simplify their business structure to ensure that the business was operating as efficiently as possible. With our detailed understanding of tax roll-over concessions, we helped our clients seamlessly transition to the the new structure. The business can now operate more efficiently and has a solid foundation for further expansion.
- We worked with the partners of an accounting firm to admit a new partner to their practice. The practice operates from 6 locations and has a lot of different entities and assets that needed to be dealt with as part of the buy-in. We prepared a series of tailored, comprehensive documents that made the process clear, easy and cost -effective for all partners, while minimising tax consequences (particularly stamp duty). The partners were grateful that we understood their business and investment structure and could speak their language.
- Our client is one of the largest telecommunications enterprises in the South Pacific. A significant corporate investor submitted a proposal to acquire a majority interest in our client to enable the roll-out of a telecommunications network at a cost of AUD $150,000,000. We successfully advised our client on the structure of the deal, including successfully negotiating the exclusion of several onerous terms which were against our client’s interests. The deal has now settled with our clients receiving the completion payments entirely on their terms.
How we helped business owners and investors overcome significant challenges and risks
- Our client received a director penalty notice from the ATO relating to superannuation that his company had allegedly failed to pay. The ATO’s position was that our client was personally liable for $500,000. We reviewed the law and won a technical argument against the ATO which reduced the penalties by $200,000. We are continuing to challenge the remaining penalties.
- Our client is a group of companies and trusts that run a manufacturing business across Australia and New Zealand. The group wanted to restructure their affairs and sell their Australian factory– which looked like it would result in significant capital gains. We provided advice which went through some of the most complex provisions in the tax law (the company tax loss provisions), and we came up with a solution that would allow them to offset their capital gains against capital losses that arose elsewhere in the group. In other words, they could use the tax loss rules to avoid paying the big tax bill!
- We acted for a married couple that own and operate a successful wholesale business. They want the wealth they have built up in the business to go their children that have actively worked in and built the value of the business. The threat of a family provision claim by another family member (that has not had any involvement in the family business) prompted our clients to seek our advice about their estate planning. Our clients hold the majority of their wealth in a company. The potential tax consequences of transferring the assets or shares in the company into a trust or to their preferred heir made this option untenable. Instead, we assisted our clients to put the equity value of their shares beyond the reach of claims against the estate.
How we helped business owners move to the next phase of their life after building a successful business
- Our client had operated a longstanding food retail business in a regional town, and was looking to retire. He had found a capable purchaser that had the enthusiasm and drive to take the business forward, but not sufficient upfront capital to buy both the business and the premises that the business operated from. Our client was happy to provide vendor finance to the purchaser to get the deal across the line. We prepared and negotiated tailored agreements to carefully document the deal, ensuring that our client could retire with peace of mind knowing that his interests are secured and the loan recoverable if anything goes wrong.
- One of our clients has wide-ranging pursuits including transport and agricultural. He confided in us that he was starting to feel the pressures of mortality. He was being kept awake at night with the thought of his wife and children having no idea what to do and no guidance as to what his personal and business structure entailed if the worst were to happen. We were able to do a full review of his entire succession plan and produce a clear and straightforward summary that included practical guidance for the client’s wife and children as to who would be in charge of which aspects of the business and explanation of how the client’s documentation works in the context of his overall estate plan. From all accounts, our client is sleeping much better these days.
How we helped rural families manage and preserve the value of their agricultural businesses and land.
- Our client was both the owner of agricultural land and a director of his family’s farming company. He was worried that his land would be at risk if something went wrong in the farming business. We helped him to restructure his affairs so that the land was transferred into family trusts and safely out of reach of business creditors. Using our knowledge of available stamp duty and capital gains tax exemptions, we also made sure that the transfers could be implemented without incurring a tax liability.
- Our clients were a married couple that had accumulated substantial assets through the family’s farming operations. One of the couple’s primary concerns was to ensure that they secured their wealth for the benefit of future generations of their family. They had recently had their wills and other succession planning documents prepared by another lawyer, but their business adviser was concerned that the documents did not properly reflect what the couple actually intended. We were asked to take a second look. We found that the documents did not reflect the couple’s intentions. The documents imposed certain conditions on beneficiaries that had not been intended, and control of their Trust Deeds was being passed to family members in a way that was inconsistent with the Deeds themselves. The couple’s estate would likely have been tied up knots for years and the value of the estate could have been significantly diminished when their executors came to unravel the mess. A primary beneficiary under their Wills and Trusts was a family member who had a history of drug dependency so we drafted their Wills and their Trust Deeds to include that family member under certain conditions, to ensure the wealth stayed within the family and was preserved for future generations.
How we helped investors limit their losses when things have not gone as planned
- Our client was the purchaser of a large pastoral property in South Australia. The vendor had agreed to repair the fences bordering the property prior to settlement. The vendor believed they had completed the required works, but our client disagreed. Given that the fences on the property were kilometres in length, this would have cost our client a significant amount of money to rectify. We commenced urgent Supreme Court proceedings for an outcome. Ultimately, we facilitated our client settling on the property purchase, and then negotiated a payout by the vendor to our client to cover anticipated cost of the works our client said remained outstanding.
- Our clients invested millions of dollars in what they believed was a promising manufacturing and equipment hire business. Unfortunately, the business turned out to be a carefully crafted scam. We conducted a 10-day trial in the Federal Court to recover the funds invested by our client on the basis that the operators had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law. The decision is expected early next year. Along the way, we were successful in a number of procedural applications and obtaining a temporary freezing order against the defendants’ assets.
How we helped community-minded people create positive change
- Our client is involved with a local soccer league in NSW that was looking to put forward an Expression of Interest to the Football Federation of Australia’s open call to bid for a spot in the A-League expansion. Our client came to us for advice on how best to structure the new club to ensure that the club would be financially viable, with the backing of private investors and members, and controlled by a majority of the community. Our client had a clear idea of how they wanted the membership and control structure to be effected. We were able to advise on the possible structures for the Club, with a view to ensuring tax concessions would be accessible and keeping in line with our client’s vision for the bid. Our client was ultimately successful in their bid, which is a major boost for the local community!
- Our clients are involved in running the local hotel in a regional town in South Australia. As well as being a vital meeting place and employer for the town, the hotel also applies 100% of its profits from the hotel toward projects and causes that support the local community. We helped our clients restructure their affairs and obtain a private tax ruling confirming that all income generated by the hotel is income tax exempt. Our client can now directly apply more funds toward promoting and supporting the local community.
How we helped our clients deal with the loss of a family member or loved one
- Our client’s father had passed away years ago and left the majority of his wealth to our client’s stepmother. Our client and his 4 siblings were then all left out of the stepmother’s will, but all had a real need for financial provision. We successfully brokered a deal at mediation that saw our client and his siblings receive a good portion of the stepmother’s estate. They were all thrilled with the outcome, which also really brought them together as a family unit.
- We acted for a brother and sister that were appointed as joint executors of their father’s estate. There was considerable hostility between the two executors due to long-standing personal issues, as well as a third estranged sibling. We were able to facilitate communication between all three siblings to obtain a Grant of Probate and assist to finalise the estate. Our involvement removed the need for the siblings to deal directly with one another so that the estate could be finalised smoothly, with each of the siblings receiving their inheritance with minimal conflict.
- Our client inherited a property from his father, including the bad tenant who never paid rent on time (if at all). We assisted our client initially by preparing a lease that gave our client substantial rights to terminate the lease and claim legal costs when the tenant defaulted on his rental payments. When the lease was eventually terminated, the tenant brought proceedings against our client for the lease to be reinstated. We successfully defended our client’s position under the lease we had prepared, resulting in the tenant’s eviction from the premises and paying all of our client’s legal costs.
- Our client and her sister had a close relationship with their stepfather, and when he passed away he provided for both of them in his will. Unfortunately our client’s sister died unexpectedly without having a Will. The sister also didn’t have any children or spouse so our client was the next of kin. We have assisted our client in realising her interests under both these estates. Our client has a complex family in that she was estranged from her father and had earlier lost a brother. This has resulted in extensive investigations in both Australia and the United Kingdom. To compound our client’s distress, the stepfather’s executor has been needlessly obstructive and delayed in distributing the estate. We successfully brought an application in the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the executor to distribute funds in accordance with the Will.
How we helped our clients move on and find a new vision for their life after a relationship breakdown
- Our client’s husband had left the family home and they had been unable to agree on how to divide their property and deal with the ongoing parenting of their young children. There was considerable hostility between the parties. We were able to negotiate a property settlement where our client was able to remain in the former matrimonial home with the children and receive 70% of the pool of assets. We were also able to negotiate parenting orders between the parties, providing for the father to gradually increase his time with the children, which would be reviewed through mediation after a period of time. Our client now has a firm basis to confidently move on with her life and provide for her children.
- Our client’s father gave him a parcel of land as a wedding gift many years ago. At some point in the intervening period, the father had a change of heart and issued proceedings against our client to force the sale of the land and recover $200,000 of the sale proceeds from our client. Our client came to us when the proceedings were well underway and listed for trial. We quickly stepped in to assist our client to gain a working understanding of the complex legal issues. We then worked with our client to agree on a practical strategy and successfully negotiated a settlement where our client agreed to pay his father 10% (over three years) of what the father claimed he was owed. This created certainty for our client and avoided the need for him to be involved in what was likely to be protracted, complex and expensive legal proceedings.
- Our client and her husband separated and were working through the division of their property. It was not going well for our client. Due to the size of the pool of assets, the eventual distribution of assets meant that the family home (in which our client and the children are living), would have to be sold. We attended a private mediation, and were able to successfully negotiate a settlement where our client could continue to live in the home for a further 3 years and until the children complete their schooling. Our client will only have to contribute a minimal sum to the mortgage (substantially less than the market value of rent) and will receive a 60% split of the net matrimonial assets, in her favour.
- We acted for a married couple with adult children. Unfortunately, their son’s ex-wife brought proceedings against them alleging an entitlement to the family’s extensive farming properties. We advised our clients on the prospects of the ex-wife’s claim and maneuvered the matter to a mediation as soon as practical. Having thrown light on the numerous difficulties with the ex-wife’s case, we were able to settle the matter for a modest sum (in the scheme of the farm holding) shortly after the mediation. This allowed our clients to move on, avoiding years of expensive litigation.
- Our clients were formerly married but had reached an amicable agreement about how to divide their property. We helped them to formalise this agreement into enforceable Family Court Consent Orders. We then assisted them to deal with their substantial asset pool, including transferring properties located in New South Wales, Northern Territory and Queensland. We liaised with the various government bodies in each state to have each transfer assessed as exempt from stamp duty.
How we partnered with other professionals to help them get their job done and achieve great outcomes
- Our clients were appointed as voluntary administrators over a machinery import company, with a very contentious administration. We helped with managing the secured bank, the overseas major supplier, the director and the various other stakeholders. We were able to give our client clear guidance on a number of issues around ownership of assets involving securities and complex international trade law. Ultimately the company has passed into liquidation due to no feasible deal being agreed between the major stakeholders, and we are assisting the clients with recovery actions.
- We acted for the trustee of a bankrupt estate who was pursuing the bankrupt’s interest in a family home owned with her former husband. Negotiations with the the former husband proved unsuccessful and so we were able to obtain an enforceable order compelling the sale of the property, with the proceeds held in our trust account. The parties eventually came to a resolution which resulted in our client, the trustee, realising about 50% of the net proceeds.