OUR AREAS OF PRACTISE
Commercial & Retail Shop Leases
This is a complex area of the law and it is fraught with danger for both the landlord and the tenant.
Broadly, commercial leases fall into two basic categories. Those that come within the scope of the Retail Leases Act, 1994 (“the Act”) and those that do not.
Commercial leases that are not subject to the legislative requirements of Retail Leases Act, 1994 are large area (more than 1,000 m2) commercial premises such as factories, large shops, warehouses, professional and office space.
Schedule 1 of the Retail Leases Act, 1994 sets out a comprehensive list of businesses that commonly come within the scope of the Act.
Rights and obligations attach to both the landlord and the tenant of these premises however, the Act is intended largely to provide a level of protection to the tenants of retail shop premises.
In a similar fashion to that under the vendor disclosure provisions of the Conveyancing Act, 1919, a landlord is required to have a copy of the Retail Shop Lease available for inspection by any prospective tenant. Penalties apply for non-compliance.
The success or failure of a business may well depend on whether the lease for the premises from which the business will be conducted is appropriate. Don’t find out too late that your lease is a millstone around the neck of your business. Speak to one of our lawyers first.
Commercial & Residential Conveyancing
Conveyancing is the term commonly used to refer to the sale or purchase of real estate (either commercial or residential) and to the sale or purchase of businesses.
The high incidence of property ownership in Australia means that most people at some time in their lives will be involved in the sale or purchase of real estate.
It is a fact that by far the largest number of claims made against professional indemnity insurers is in the area of residential conveyancing.
It is extremely important therefore that whether you are buying or selling a property, you obtain sound legal advice. One way to be confident that you are being properly advised in relation to your sale or purchase is to retain one of our skilled lawyers to conduct the matter for you.
The Conveyancing Act, 1919 imposes a number of obligations on the vendor of residential property. One of these is the requirement that a vendor have a copy of the Contract for sale of land available for inspection by any prospective purchaser. Penalties apply for non-compliance.
Experience in this area of the law is everything! When it comes to choosing someone to represent you, don’t make your decision based solely on price. Make sure that a lawyer will conduct the transaction for you.
Business Succession & Family Estate Planning
Some of the largest businesses in Australia are (or were) family owned and operated. Think of such dynasties as Fairfax, Packer, Lindsay Fox, Myer, Ansett Airways, Budget Rent a Car and others. Some of these may have gone on to become publicly listed companies but for a substantial part of their existence they were family owned and operated.
Your business may not be on the list of Australia’s top 500 but have you given any thought to what will happen to the business when you retire or die?
Are there members of your family who may want to continue to build and develop your business? Could the business be a source of wealth creation for subsequent generations? How would you manage the transition to those family members?
These are questions which need to be addressed early and not on the eve of your retirement or on your deathbed.
We can help you weigh up the options available, put the most appropriate structures in place and ensure that when you are ready to move out of the business there are measures in place to ensure that the transition is smooth and that the enterprise continues to prosper and grow.
Family Estate Planning
For individuals who have accumulated a level of wealth and would like to see certain assets remain in family ownership, a family estate plan will assist by identifying and preserve those wealth generating assets.
In many situations, it is no longer appropriate to keep the terms of your Will a “secret”. By discussing the way in which you wish to deal with your estate with your family members you can put a plan in place that will avoid family disputes, minimise the prospect of having your Will challenged after your death and avoid having a large proportion of the estate paid out on legal costs.
As there are currently no state or federal gift duties, it is possible during your lifetime to gift certain of your assets to people who are important to you. Making a gift of property or assets during your lifetime may have some advantages.
We can assist you and the members of your family to formulate a family estate plan and to put the structures in place that will assist assets in your estate to grow and enhance the net worth of the family.
Wills and Estates
There is only one thing worse than leaving no Will at all and that is leaving a Will that is ineffectual or which gives rise to costly, relationship destroying and protracted litigation as disgruntled family members challenge the terms of your Will in Court.
When it comes to Wills, the expression; “… you get what you pay for …” is particularly true.
A free Will kit given to you when you open a bank account, take out an insurance policy, subscribe to some magazine or some similar offer can hardly be expected to be a sound vehicle through which you will leave all your worldly wealth to the people that have been most important to you while you were alive.
Gifts that are vague or unclear may fail and either become part of your residuary estate and end up passing to someone that you did not intend should benefit in that way or worse, fall to be dealt will on intestacy.
There are many complex issues which if not correctly addressed in your Will, may cause hours of anguish for your family and friends, destroy familial relationships and even consume a large part of your estate in litigation costs.
Have your Will prepared by one of our lawyers and be confident that the Will that you leave will achieve what you want it to.
Obtaining a grant of Probate of your Will or Letters of Administration after your death can be costly and protracted. Let us look after this often complex procedure for you.
Our lawyers have substantial experience in assisting our clients to deal with the estate of a loved one. We can take the concern out of obtaining a grant of Probate or smooth the way to obtaining a grant of Letters of Administration if your loved one died without leaving a Will or if the Will has been lost or is “informal”.
Partnerships / Joint Ventures
Like marriages, partnerships and joint ventures may be easy to enter into however, it is often not until those partnerships or joint ventures break down that the parties realise how difficult, costly and time consuming disengaging partnership assets can be.
Having a sound partnership or joint venture agreement in place can avoid the destruction of friendships, hours of negotiation, legal costs and frustration.
Whether you are planning a business venture with a close friend or simply a business acquaintance, make sure that you receive sound legal and financial advice before you commit yourself. The relatively small cost of getting the right agreement in place is likely to pay dividends in the future.
Speak to one of our experienced lawyers to make sure that your interests are protected.
As a business operator, we strong advise that you not only seek the advice of a lawyer experienced in the type of business that you are thinking of entering into but that you also consult a business accountant.
Franchises can be a great way of getting into a business with a proven system of operation, a broadly know name, trading identity or product. As a franchisee you are receiving the benefit of the knowledge and expertise gained by the franchisor and obtaining a proven “system” of operation.
The Franchising Code of Conduct is a compulsory code governing the conduct of franchisors and franchisees and has the force of law under the provisions of the Trade Practices Act, 1974. For more information see: http://www.australianfranchses.com.au
Remember however, that as a franchisee you are not operating your own business and are obliged to follow the franchisor’s directions to a substantial degree. Being committed to conducting the business in accordance with the franchisor’s requirements may not be what you had in mind when you decided to get into business on your own behalf.
Franchisors have often spent a great deal of time and money developing their business, the systems and branding that makes it a success. It is not surprising therefore that a franchisor will expect that their branding and intellectual property are protected.
Make sure that you read the franchise agreement and that you obtain sound legal and financial advice before you sign anything at all.
If you are contemplating going into business, whether it is a franchise or not, we strongly suggest that you not only seek the advice of a lawyer experienced business matter but that you also consult a business accountant.
Family and Relationships
It is often difficult for parties to be objective and reasonable when they are faced with the breakdown of a marriage or relationship. At Lopich Lawyers we understand and appreciate the anguish and distress that is all too common at such times.
We will advise and assist you to deal with the often difficult and complex areas of property adjustment, matters relating to children and financial concerns.
Our family lawyer, Lorraine Lopich has many years experience in dealing with complex property issues, unravelling and dealing with marital assets held in trusts and companies. She will advise you and guide you through the process.
When it comes to matters relating to children of the marriage, Lorraine has the skills, understanding and knowledge to assist you to come to appropriate and fair arrangements for access.
Do you know that more than 96% of legal proceedings commenced in the various Courts in NSW and elsewhere are settled before they come before a judge or magistrate. Put simply, something less than 4% of legal disputes are actually decided by a judge or magistrate.
At Lopich Lawyers we offer our clients a broad range of dispute resolution processes and will take the time to explain the options available to you. This means that whether you choose to litigate your dispute or to engage in another dispute resolution process you will be the person in control. We will not set you on the litigation road because that is all we know.
Our lawyers have many years experience as strong litigators however, they are also nationally accredited mediators and collaboratively trained lawyers and arbitrators. In this way we can make sure that we help you to decide which is the most effective process for the resolution of your particular dispute.
Litigation is often expensive and can be protracted. At times it is also the most appropriate means of dealing with a dispute. At such times it is comforting to know that you will have the benefit of strong but objective legal representation.
Our lawyers have many years experience in conducting litigation in a range of jurisdictions including the District and Supreme Courts of NSW, the Land & Environment Court, the Federal Court of Australia and others.
Because we do not only offer litigation as a means of dealing with issues in dispute, we are able to provide advice and assistance in weighing up the options available to you. We also have the ability to be flexible and to strategise so that you receive the information that you need to make an informed decision as to the most appropriate course to adopt in particular circumstances.
Our only tool is not a hammer, so we do not treat every problem as if it were a nail!
Our lawyers are nationally accredited mediators. They are also LEADR accredited mediators and members of the Law Society of NSW Mediators Panel.
Lopich Lawyers provides mediation services to disputing parties as well as providing legal support to clients who are engaged in mediation with another mediator.
We provide mediation services in relation to a broad range of areas including business and commercial disputes, property and commercial lease issues, Wills and estates matters,
workplace relations and local government and environmental disputes.
Lorraine Lopich is a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) and works in the area of family and relationship disputes.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where the disputing parties are assisted by a third party neutral (the mediator) to negotiate a resolution to their particular dispute with a view to avoid going to court.
Collaborative law is a relatively new dispute resolution process to Australia. Collaborative law started in the United States in 1990 by a disgruntled divorce lawyer and spread quickly throughout the US, Canada and the UK. It is now practised in some 20 countries around the world including France, Germany, Switzerland, India, Uganda and Israel.
Collaborative law training was first undertaken in Australia in 2005 and our lawyers were amongst the initial group of lawyers and others to undertake this first training. Since then our lawyers have attained training to the “Advanced Level”.
The process was initially used in the resolution of family disputes but has since been adopted in the resolution of disputes across a broad range of areas including business partnerships, disputes between directors, building and construction disputes, medical malpractice issues, workplace relations, probate and estates and contractual disputes of various kinds.
The process is voluntary and confidential with the parties being focused on the resolution of the issues in dispute from the outset. In fact the parties and their collaboratively trained lawyers actually enter into a contract (the “Participation Agreement”) at the commencement of the matter to enter into open and frank, good faith negotiation with a view to resolving the matters in dispute and not to go to court.
The parties assisted by their lawyers engage in integrative bargaining, avoiding positions and concentrating on their respective needs and interests to find a resolution to their dispute.
The Collaborative process has proved to be particularly effective in preserving relationships between the parties concerned. In the case of family law disputes for example, to maintain a workable relationship between the parties with regard to children’s issues.
In non-family law matters, the parties are generally able to retain a workable commercial relationship which is so important where contracts remain on foot or persons are engaged in the same workplace.
For more information on collaborative law go to:- www.collaborativelaw.us
Collaborative lawyers are engaged as settlement counsel, their retainer is limited to assisting the parties to negotiate a resolution to their dispute and they must withdraw from the matter if the parties fail to resolve their dispute.