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Changes to Annualised Wages

Written by Sarah Camm

Important changes to annualised wage arrangements from March 1, 2020.

In February 2020 the Fair Work Commission made determinations that may affect salary arrangements in a wide range of businesses. Employers should carefully consider the changes and ensure that they are complying with their requirements, even where an employment agreement is in place.

What is an annualised salary?

Some employers have arrangements in place with their full-time employees, where their annual salary is calculated to compensate them for all of their entitlements and they do not receive, for instance, overtime, penalty rates or leave loading. The same arrangements cannot be made for part-time or casual workers, who are paid per hour. These arrangements should be agreed in advance, by way of an employment contract, and the annual wage must be high enough to cover the award entitlements.

What could go wrong?

When comparing their annualised wage arrangements with the entitlements they would otherwise have received, some employees have found that if they were simply paid their award wage and overtime payments, they would have been substantially better off. This means that they are being underpaid, resulting in employers having to make substantial back-payments to ensure that the employees received their entitlements.  

What are the changes?

From the first pay cycle after 1 March 2020, employers will be required to: –

  • set out in writing the entitlements that the annualised salary purports to include
  • nominate an ‘outer limit’, or maximum number of penalty or overtime hours the employee can work in a pay period without extra payment;
  • record an employee’s hours, including starting, finishing and break times;
  • have their employees sign their record of hours each pay cycle to confirm that it is accurate; and
  • monitor the arrangements, and conduct an annual reconciliation to ensure employees are being properly compensated for the hours worked.

While the changes do not affect the employer’s obligations or employee’s rights regarding minimum wages, they may lead to realisations of longstanding underpayments. Just Us Lawyers can help you review your employment contracts to ensure that they comply with the Fair Work Act, or can assist you to lodge a claim for unpaid wages.

Contact our experienced employment law team on 07 3369 7145 or via email to to make an appointment.

(Photo by Ross Findon, Unsplash)

Second Marriages and Pre-Nups: A Cautionary Tale


Some people think that they can have their wedding cake and eat it too.

The most common way of protecting assets for people entering new relationships after the break down of a previous one, particularly where there are children from a former relationship,  is to enter a “Pre- Nup” or Binding Financial Agreements (“BFAs”) as they are more correctly known. 

On 8 November 2017 the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in the case of Thorne v Kennedy. The decision has been hailed by some commentators as a landmark case, which spells the “death knell” for BFA’s.

However, in our view this is an overstatement.  Binding Financial Agreements will continue to be an important means of protecting family assets for the children of previous relationships. However, the decision provides a salutary warning for those intent upon imposing one sided agreements on their prospective partner with little consideration of their future needs and the capacity to properly provide for them in the event that the relationship breakdown.

The case revolves around the couple of “Ms Thorne” and “Mr Kennedy”. This is not their real names.

The couple met online. Ms Thorne was 36 years old at the time, lived in the Middle East, and had no substantial assets. About seven months into the relationship she moved to Australia to be with Mr Kennedy, a 67 year old property developer whose approximate wealth was between 18 and 24 million dollars.

Under the Family Law Act a BFA is only binding if each party receives independent advice. Nine months after moving to Australia and ten days before the wedding Mr Kennedy took Ms Thorne to see a solicitor regarding the pre-nup. Mr Kennedy waited in the car outside. This was the first time Ms Thorne was made aware of the contents of the agreement she was expected to sign. The solicitor provided written advice to Ms Thorne regarding the agreement. Her advice was that it was “the worst agreement that she had ever seen”, that it was “entirely inappropriate” and that “Ms Thorne should not sign it.”

Despite this, four days before the wedding Ms Thorne signed the agreement.

A second agreement was signed approximately four weeks after the wedding, which was in substantially the same terms and to which Ms Thorne’s solicitor gave the same advice, urging her not to sign it.

Just under four years after the wedding, Mr Kennedy separated from Ms Thorne.

Under the agreement, as they had separated after three years without children, Ms Thorne was entitled only to a lump sum of $50,000. After receiving advice by chance from someone at a hairdressers, Ms Thorne commenced proceedings. Mr Kennedy died during the trial and the trustees of his estate, his two children, were substituted as parties.

Ms Thorne was successful at trial, lost the Full Court appeal, and has now had her appeal upheld and the original decision reinstated.

The High Court held that the agreements were void because they were signed under circumstances of undue influence and unconscionable conduct. Both concepts are wide, and difficult to define, particularly as they overlap quite substantially. In general however, undue influence looks at the quality of the weaker person’s consent, while unconscionable conduct looks at the behaviour of the stronger party.

The majority found that terms which are “grossly unreasonable, even for agreements of this nature” which usually contain some imbalance, are an indicator of the presence of undue influence. However, this may not mean the death of all BFAs as some commentators have claimed.

The majority noted that the primary judge found, in this case, that the inequality of bargaining power went beyond merely a difference in financial circumstances, and included:

  • Ms Thorne’s visa status;
  • Ms Thorne’s reliance on Mr Kennedy for all things;
  • Ms Thorne’s emotional connection to the relationship, which she did not envision would end in separation;
  • Ms Thorne’s desire for motherhood;
  • Ms Thorne’s wish for her marriage to succeed;
  • The time pressure; and
  • The “publicness” of the upcoming wedding.

They held that undue influence involves pressure which deprives a person of their free choice, and that here Ms Thorne, for the above reasons, felt “powerless” and that she had “no choice” but to sign, and the agreements should therefore be set aside.

The majority and Nettle J went on to say that the agreements could also be set aside for unconscionable conduct, as Ms Thorne was at a special disadvantage in signing the agreements which Mr Kennedy not only was aware and took advantage of, but that he had partially created in particular through the timeframe he had imposed on her understanding and signing the agreements before the marriage.

Gordon J agreed that the agreements should be set aside but found that this could be on the basis of unconscionable conduct only. She said that undue influence did not exist here as Ms Thorne’s will was not overborne. Ms Thorne made a decision to enter into the marriage and was aware that in order to enter into the marriage she had to sign the agreement. The fact that her options were limited (sign the agreement and get married or do not sign the agreement and do not get married) does not mean she did not make a free choice to (a) get married, and (b) in order to have that marriage, sign the agreement.

The news stories shouting that this decision signals the “death knell” for BFAs are in our view both over-stating and over-simplifying the decision. The High Court expressly stated that fiancé-fiancée relationships do not give rise to a presumption of undue influence. In cases with less extreme circumstances, for instance, if Ms Thorne was aware of the contents of the pre-nup before moving to Australia and the agreement to distribute the property of the marriage was more even handed, a BFA or pre-nup may be upheld by a Court if challenged.

This article is not designed to act as or replace the provision of legal advice. To review the terms of your pre-nup or for specialist advice regarding the validity of your BFA contact Just Us Lawyers  for a quote today.

Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty: Foreign Buyers Beware!


Foreign buyers beware!  Coming into legislative force as of 1 October 2016, the Queensland Government through the Department of Treasury, has implemented a three (3) percent duty surcharge on all foreign purchases of residential property in Queensland. [1]  The surcharge will apply to foreign purchases taking place on or after 1 October 2016 (any contracts or agreements signed by a foreign purchaser or ‘acquirer’ before 1 October 2016 are not liable).

What is AFAD duty and how is it calculated?

Colloquially dubbed the ‘Foreign Investor Tax’ [2], Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty or ‘AFAD’, it is a three (3) percent surcharge on foreign purchases in addition to the standard stamp duty that a foreign purchaser normally pays.

Who does AFAD apply to?

So you may be wondering, am I or aren’t I a foreign purchaser or ‘acquirer’ for the purposes of the legislation?  Good question!  Part 2 of the Duties Act classifies foreign acquirers into three (3) separate categories, namely:

  1. Foreign persons – An individual other than an Australian citizen or permanent resident. [3]  Please note that the exemption on who is classified as a foreign person as part of the Federal Government’s Foreign Investment Review Board (‘FIRB’) approval differs to State AFAD duty. That is, under the FIRB scheme a ‘foreign person’ who buys property as a joint tenant with their spouse who is an Australian citizen/ permanent resident or New Zealand citizen is exempt from FIRB approval. However, a foreign acquirer under the Duties Act is not afforded the same treatment i.e. a foreign acquirer will need to pay AFAD on their interest on the purchase property regardless of their spouse’s citizenship or residency status.
  2. Foreign Corporation – A corporation incorporated outside Australia or subject to a foreign person having a controlling interest of 50% or more. [4]
  3. A Trustee of a Foreign Trust – A trust where at least 50% of the trust beneficiaries are foreign interests. [5]

What type of purchases or acquisitions does AFAD duty apply to?

Broadly speaking, AFAD applies to ‘AFAD Residential Land’ consisting of land which is used for residential purposes and is (but not limited to) an established building or dwelling [6], vacant land where development will be undertaken or a commercial building converted into residential purposes.  AFAD Residential Land does not apply to short term accommodation such as hotels, dormitories, motels [7] or commercial/business buildings.

Exemptions from AFAD Duty

In certain circumstances, foreign acquirers may be exempt from AFAD or apply for ‘ex gratia relief’.  However, the eligibility criteria for such discretionary relief is strict and onerous.  Essentially, the foreign acquirer or ‘entity’ must satisfy all the following conditions [8]:

  1. The foreign acquirer must be ‘Australian-based’; and
  2. The foreign acquirer must have complied with the FIRB requirements for the purchase; and
  3. The foreign acquirer must meet regulatory standards most notably regarding corporations law and taxation law; and
  4. The development that the foreign acquirer is involved with must be ‘significant’; and
  5. The foreign acquirer must make use of Australian goods, services and personnel in the development of the AFAD residential land.

A Final Word

By bringing in AFAD, the Queensland Government is clearly seeking to minimise the impact of foreign investment on domestic first home buyers and investors in Queensland.  However, AFAD is still in its legislative infancy and not without criticism, most notably from the Property Council of Australia [9] who contend that it could increase the cost of newly constructed homes and equate to less jobs due to additional costs imposed on development projects.

If you are a foreign purchaser and are concerned as to the implications of AFAD on your purchase of property in Queensland, do not hesitate to contact either our Kelvin Grove or Wilston offices. If you, or someone else you know, needs help with this process, why not fill out an enquiry form, we would be happy to assist and advise over your rights and obligations with respect to AFAD.

[1] This legislative amendment is indicated in Section 244(2) of the Duties Act 2001 (Qld).

[2] Marland, Brad, ‘Queensland Treasurer Announces Relief from Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty’, Gadens, 26 September 2016.

[3] Section 245 of the Duties Act 2001 (Qld)

[4] Sections 236 (1)(2) of the Duties Act 2001 (Qld).

[5]Section 237 of Duties Act 2001 (Qld).

[6]Section 232 of the Duties Act 2001 (Qld).

[7]Rostron Carlyle Lawyers, 20 October 2016, ‘Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty’ Queensland OSR Release Ruling<>.

[8]For further guidance on these conditions please consult ‘DA000.15.1—Additional foreign acquirer duty—ex gratia relief for significant development’,28 September 2016 Office of State Revenue Public Ruling – Queensland Treasury.

[9]Property Law Council of Australia, Queensland Government Ignores Repeated Warnings about Poorly Conceived Legislation,17 June 2016, Property Law Council of Australia, Media Release.

“Sign the dotted line” – Indigenous Land Use Agreements after the McGlade decision

By Ted Besley

The Federal Court has found a $1.3b native title deal with the Noongar people cannot be registered. With four of the represented claimants refusing to put their names to five of the agreements, the court held that all named applicants are required to execute the agreement, even where members of the applicant group have died or lost mental capacity.

What did the Court do?

The Full Court’s decision in McGlade v Registrar National Native Title Tribunal [2017] FCAFC 10 has overturned practices regarding the execution of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (“ILUAs”) that have developed since 2010 in reliance upon the judgments of Justice Reeves in the Bygrave decisions.

In effect, the Court in McGlade found that agreements negotiated as part of a broad settlement of native title in the S/W corner of Western Australia were actually not ILUAs as defined in the Native Title Act (NTA) because they were not signed by all of the named applicants.

The Court held that resolutions passed at the relevant authorisation meetings were not competent to deal with the issue of deceased, incapacitated and “recalcitrant” applicants. It was found that the proper course for dealing with these issues is to replace applicants under section 66B of the NTA.

See the Federal Court decision here:

McGlade’s Implications

The decision clearly has direct consequences for the S/W settlement deal. Predictably, Premier Barnett has since made comments to the media expressing his government’s frustration with the delays McGlade will cause to the finalisation of what has been a long negotiation.

Many commentators believe that the decision puts in jeopardy ILUAs that were not signed by all applicants but have already been registered (in reliance upon Bygrave). This concerns proponents because such ILUAs often contained consents to the grant of mining tenements for their projects. If the relevant agreement is not an ILUA, the tenements may not have been validly granted. The Federal Attorney General has acted quickly to introduce a bill to parliament aimed at addressing perceived issues caused by the decision. This is somewhat surprising as there has been no detailed analysis by the government of the impacts of the McGlade decision on existing ILUAs.

Other ILUAs to which state governments must be a party often contain consents to the surrender or extinguishment of native title. Such agreements generally contain provisions dealing with compensation for extinguishment/surrender of native title. Liability for compensation under the NTA is generally borne by government. Consequently, governments are concerned that the decision calls into question the reliability of commitments made in respect of compensation for agreed acts underpinning many major resource projects and land dealings.

Lastly, the decision highlights the critical role that applicants play in key areas of the native title system – in agreement making but also in progressing underlying native title claims. It is a reminder to all claim groups to carefully consider who they choose to represent them and to craft resolutions at meetings which deal with the myriad of outcomes that might follow.

Agreement making in the future

Given the track record of governments legislating changes to the NTA that address the concerns of sectoral interests, it is unlikely that the implications of McGlade will be as far reaching as many commentators have predicted.

For now, parties to agreements over areas that have not been determined will have to obtain the signatures of all applicants. Those that have passed away or refuse to sign will need to be replaced. Dealing with these issues in a cost effective and timely way poses challenges to both proponents and native title groups alike.

Proponents will inevitably turn their minds to whether applications are required to replace applicants who are not executing agreements. This is properly a decision for the claim group. Obvious conflicts arise when proponents become involved in such considerations. No doubt more time and resources will be brought to getting “recalcitrant” applicants to “sign the dotted line”.

Is it the system or is it Just Us?

Just Us Lawyers act for many native title groups and proponents directly affected by McGlade. Being at the forefront of Native Title, our team of recognised experts will get you through the native title system, whatever side you are on.

Watch this space! Look out for more blogs in the future about the passage of the bill currently before the parliament.


Doyle’s Leading Rankings – Australia 2017

The latest rankings by Doyle’s for Leading Lawyer Rankings – Australia, 2017, have been published.

Just Us Lawyers has again been recognised in the category of Leading Native Title Law Firms with Ted Besley being featured as a recommended practitioner in Leading Native Title Lawyers.

We take a lot of pride in being featured in Doyle’s report and will continue to provide our clients with high-quality advice at all times, listening to their needs and achieving the best outcomes possible.


business woman holding open sign

Tenants afforded additional protection under amendments to the Retail Shop Leases Act

By Natalie Smyth

The Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 (Qld) (“the RSLA”) regulates the retail shop leasing sector in Queensland. It was introduced in an effort to address the imbalance of negotiation power between large landlords and small retail tenants by imposing mandatory minimum standards for retail shop leases.

On 25 November 2016, the Retail Shop Leases Amendment Act 2016 (“RSL Amendment Act”) came into effect, imposing a number of key changes to the RSLA. The Amendments offer further protection for retail tenants by imposing additional disclosure requirements on retail landlords. Some of the key changes to the Act can be summarised as follows:-

What is a retail shop lease?

The definition of “retail shop lease” has been amended to exclude the following lease categories from the operation of the RSLA:-

  1. retail shops with a floor space of more than 1000m2;
  2. leases of premises for the conduct of a retail business by a tenant who is the landlord’s employee or agent; and
  3. certain non-retail leases located within a retail shopping centre that are ‘not used wholly or predominantly for carrying on a retail business’.[1]

This change will see a number of tenants excluded from the protection offered by the Retail Shop Leases Act, but will also allow these tenants the ability to negotiate commercially agreeable lease terms.

Major Lessees

Tenants who operate five or more retail shops in Australia (“major lessees”) will no longer need to obtain legal and financial advice in order to waive minimum standards imposed by the RSLA with respect to the timing and calculation of rent reviews (e.g. the rent may not be reviewed more than once in each year of the lease). Now, major lessees will be able to negotiate rent review terms that are commercially agreeable to both landlord and tenant, provided that they give a written waiver notice to a landlord.[2]


Under the new amendments, a retail tenant is permitted to withhold payment of outgoings until such time as the landlord has provided the tenant with an estimate of the outgoings[3]. The estimate of outgoings prepared by landlords must also now include a breakdown of the centre management and administrative fees.[4]

For those tenants who contribute towards a landlord’s marketing and advertising costs, the landlord must now issue a marketing plan at least one month prior to the start of each accounting period outlining the landlord’s proposed promotion and advertising costs.[5]

Tenants that pull out of the Lease

A retail tenant will now be required to pay a landlord’s reasonable legal fees if the parties agree on the terms of the lease and the lease has been prepared by the landlord but the tenant fails to execute/enter into the lease with the landlord.[6]

Disclosure requirements

Under section 22 of the RSLA, landlords are required to provide tenants with a disclosure statement and a draft copy of the lease at least 7 days prior to entering into the lease. Tenants are now able to agree to shorten or waive the 7 day disclosure period by providing the landlord with a legal advice report and waiver notice.[7]

Section 22(5) of the RSLA has been removed. This section imposed a limitation on the rights of a tenant to terminate a Lease based on a defective statement if the landlord had acted reasonably and honestly and the lessee is in substantially as good a position as the lessee would have been if the disclosure statement were not a defective statement.[8]

Tenants will now be required to provide landlords with a lessee disclosure statement at least seven days  before entering into the lease, rather than simply prior to entering into the lease.[9]


Unless the tenant provides a signed waiver form to the landlord, landlords will now need to provide tenants with a current disclosure statement within 7 days of the tenant providing notice to the landlord exercising their option to renew the lease.  After receiving the updated disclosure statement, the tenant will have 14 days to withdraw from exercising the option.

The tenant will now have the right to terminate the lease within 6 months of the option date in the event that the landlord does not comply with this condition or the disclosure statement provided by the landlord to the tenant is defective.[10]


The amendments certainly offer additional protection for tenants, especially with the additional disclosure requirements imposed on retail landlords.

Landlords, in particular, will need to ensure that they are fully across the new amendments, update their standard leasing documentation and ensure they have diarised important dates to ensure they comply with the new disclosure requirements around renewals/options. Failure to comply with these new disclosure obligations could see a tenant exercising their right to terminate the lease.

If you have any questions about retail leasing in Queensland, or require the drafting of a commercial lease, please don’t hesitate to contact our property and commercial solicitor, Natalie. Call/email Just Us Lawyers – we have extensive experience in dealing with commercial and business transactions and with business planning, structuring and compliance issues.

[1]S5A(3) RSL Amendment Act.

[2]S24(2) RSL Amendment Act. The Notice will need to state that section 27(2) – (7) does not apply.

[3]S33(4) RSL Amendment Act.


[5]S35 RSL Amendment Act.

[6]S49 RSL Amendment Act.


[8]S15 RSL Amendment Act.



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