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Things to talk to your lawyer about pre-Christmas

It’s that time of year again when we start seeing Christmas-related advertisements, decorations on display and holiday songs on the radio.

Most years, McCaw Lewis sees a bit of a rush in the lead-up to Christmas, as people realise that most law firms shut down for the Christmas break, and scramble to sort out the things they may have been putting off.

To avoid that last-minute panic, here’s a handy list of things to turn your mind to now – to beat that Christmas rush:

  • Do you have appropriate documentation in place to govern your business relationships, e.g. an up to date and comprehensive Shareholders’ Agreement? Things might be ticking along nicely right now, but a stressful holiday period can lead to potential disagreements among co-owners.  It is better to make a plan of how you will work together now, rather than wait until things start to go awry.

  • On a related note, are you or someone you are in business with planning on taking some longer leave and going off-grid these holidays? If so, you may wish to consider putting specific power of attorney (or similar) documentation in place to make sure things can continue to run smoothly.

  • Personal asset planning.  On a personal level, are your asset planning matters current? Do you have up-to-date Wills (and wishes if you have a trust)? Are your Enduring Powers of Attorney in place? Do you have someone who can continue to run your business if the unthinkable happens? 

  • Employment matters.  If you have a shutdown period, have you advised all your staff (and do they all have enough leave to cover that period)? Are your staffing needs sorted, or will you need to employ casual staff?  Do you know your obligations in relation to holiday pay?  Are you on top of the employment law changes that might affect your business during the busier season – e.g. your health and safety obligations if you are having a Christmas party? 

  • Don’t forget that under many standard agreements (including the standard ADLS agreement for the sale and purchase of real estate), the period between Christmas Eve and 5 January are not considered “working days”, meaning the agreement is essentially put on pause. Is there anything you may want to settle up prior to the new year?  Best to get on to it now.

  • Are your terms of trade/contracts sufficient?  Have a read through to ensure they are up-to-date and reflect what you want to achieve, especially if you expect to see an increase in business over the silly season.

  • Compliance and regulations.  In general, are you on top of the ever-changing NZ laws and regulations that may apply to you and/or your business?  Chat to us if you have any concerns, particularly if you expect to see an increase in business in the coming months e.g. via sales and promotions.

  • E-Commerce and data security. Particularly if you operate an online function in your business, are your systems secure, and compliant with data protection laws?

  • Privacy policies. Particularly if you collect customer/client data, you will want to ensure these policies are up-to-date and compliant.

  • Intellectual property. Is your brand/unique product adequately protected? We can help you with any trademark/copyright/patent queries you may have.

It may seem a way off yet, but December is just around the corner, and it may save you a lot of stress to sort your affairs our early so you can round out the year knowing you are well protected no matter what may come.

No question or issue is too small, so please do get in touch if anything you've read here has made you ponder.

Laura is a Director in our Commercial Team and can be contacted on 07 958 7479.

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