Proctor : March 2018
7 PROCTOR | March 2018 News Reduce risk & enhance results of your litigation, commercial & family law cases... With a forensic accountant that is easy to access, understands complex financial data and presents findings clearly. The truth behind the numbers. For more information visit ultonforensics.net or call (07) 4154 0400 Forensics Paving the way for farmers and mortgagees The Farm Business Debt Mediation Act 2017 (Qld) (the Act) will commence on 1 July 2018, bringing with it important changes to how parties resolve disputes regarding farm business debts. The Act outlines efficient and equitable ways for farmers and mortgagees to attempt to resolve matters, and also prevents lenders from foreclosing on debts before both parties have had the opportunity to participate in mediation. Mortgagees are not always the major banks and can include any person whom a farmer owes a farm business debt secured by a farm mortgage over farm property. Farm property can include land used for farming business, water allocations or machinery used for farming. The obligations set out for lenders include: A mortgagee must not take enforcement action under a farm mortgage unless the legislation does not apply in relation to the farmer or an exemption certificate is in force for the farm mortgage. If a mortgagee intends to take enforcement action under a farm mortgage they must serve a notice of their intention that informs the farmer of their right to request mediation. Failure to comply with the Act can be considered a summary offence with serious penalties. In addition, if a corporation commits an offence against a deemed executive liability provision, an executive officer of the corporation is taken to have also committed the offence. These provisions relate specifically to section 12(1) ‘Restriction on mortgagee enforcement action’ and section 31(2) ‘Ensuring heads of agreement is given effect accurately’. Under the Act, a farmer can instigate mediation, but if they are not in default under the farm mortgage and the mortgagee refused the mediation, there are no consequences. However, if the farmer is in default under the farm mortgage, refusal by the mortgagee may be grounds for the farmer to apply for an enforcement action suspension certificate. This prevents the mortgagee from taking enforcement action under the farm mortgage. Stay informed with your clients’ rights under the new legislation via qrida.qld.gov.au/fbdm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 623 846 to speak to the Farm Business Debt Mediation Unit. Commonwealth Games 2018 court closures The 2018 Commonwealth Games will affect court and tribunal arrangements on the Gold Coast and in other Queensland centres. A dedicated web page at qls.com.au/court-changes will reflect up-to-date closures.