September 27 2017
In these briefs, we have four updates on topics which also present potential risks and hazards for the unwary: new health and safety legislation coming into effect, claims against rural contractors, lease disputes, and bobby calf regulations. Make sure you’re familiar with these four points before they catch you unawares.
Expect the first sentencings from the new health and safety legislation
Later this year, we expect to see many developments resulting from the new health and safety legislation coming into effect, including the first sentencings. As mentioned in previous articles, the penalties for non-compliance are much more severe. We also expect to see WorkSafe release its Health and Safety Improvement Performance Toolkit, which will no doubt have further implications for all businesses. Keep an eye out for more articles from us on this topic.
Unsuccessful claims against rural contractors
The recent judgment in the case of A P and A W Hughes Limited v Lyall shows the importance of having clear discussions when engaging contractors, or for contractors providing services.
In 2014 Allan Lyall was contracted to harvest a pea and barley crop for silage. Three months later, A P and A W Hughes Limited opened the silage for feeding and found it was in poor condition. Naturally, no farmer wants to be without winter feed, so A P and A W Hughes Limited attempted to sue Allan Lyall for $300,000 in damages.
The High Court was satisfied with the competence of the silage contractor and the skills expected to implement the fall-back option of rake and chop as agreed at harvest. The judge determined the silage was poor quality because it was over-matured at harvest, accounting for the incorporated soil and resulting loss of silage quality. This was not the contractor’s fault, simply a consequence of the agreed harvesting option.
Arbitration for lease disputes saves time and money
Arbitration aims to settle disputes by one or more independent third parties rather than initiating court proceedings. People often overlook dispute resolution provisions in contractual arrangements, but it’s important these are understood and followed as demonstrated in the case of Green Road Cattle Company Limited v Southhead Holdings Limited.
In 2016, Green Road Cattle Company Limited made arrangements to lease land from Southhead Holdings Limited. Both parties signed a standard Federated Farmers lease form, acknowledging that the land was not in the best condition for farming. As a result, a lower rental was negotiated for a portion of the lease period.
There were differences between the parties about the extent of remediation and investment the property required. Green Road Cattle Company asked to renegotiate the lease or not renew it. Southhead Holdings considered this to be a surrender of the lease and gave Green Road Cattle Company an end date.
The relationship between the parties deteriorated and both made applications to the court to settle the dispute. However, the lease agreement contained a dispute resolution clause providing for arbitration. Consequently, the court ruled for an interim measure maintaining the status quo of the lease and restraining eviction of Green Road Cattle Company as long as they continued to meet their obligations under the lease. Both parties were referred to arbitration.
In short, speak to our rural lawyers before you take a dispute to court.
New bobby calf regulations are now in effect
The new regulations about the feeding, transportation, handling and housing of bobby calves came into effect on 1 August 2017. If you aren’t familiar with the new regulations, please refer to these articles: Wages, calves and a doggy disaster (April 2017) and Three must-know tips for Spring (September 2016).