Business Compliance

COMPLIANCE AUDITS

As part of the services offered by Ramsden Lawyers’ business team, our Gold Coast firm offers clients advice on compliance audits and how to implement best practice risk management policies and procedures to avoid inquires being launched against your business. That being said, in the event of a compliance audit, our lawyers walk you through your rights and obligations to ensure the best outcome possible.

ADEPT COMPLIANCE AND RISK MANAGEMENT PRACTITIONERS

Broadly speaking compliance refers to a business’ obligations as outlined by a regulatory authority that seeks to manage the economic activity of various entities. As businesses grow often times increasingly stringent obligations begin to apply and it is important to develop an enduring relationship with a legal representative who can continue to provide ongoing advice as expansions are undertaken.

Ramsden Lawyers offers a two-fold approach to achieving compliance. Firstly, we provide advice on how best to achieve compliance in first instance based on your obligations under legislation. Secondly, we guide clients who have been found to be non-compliant through the process of achieving compliance.

The areas that we advise on compliance issues include but are not limited to the following:

  1. privacy obligations and confidentiality requirements;
  2. the classification of workers as volunteers, employees or independent contractors and whether you are meeting the differing obligations to each class that contribute to your business;
  3. compliance with the requirements for workplace policies;
  4. workplace health & safety obligations;
  5. the rules regarding fair dismissals; and
  6. providing any necessary annual updates, solvency and financial reports.

CONDUCTING COMPLIANCE AUDITS PRE-EMPTIVELY

Our Gold Coast business lawyers have the capacity to conduct examinations of your business’ current policies and practices in order to determine whether you would meet your compliance obligations in the event of an audit. In the event that our professional opinion is that current operations do not meet the required compliance obligations, we propose steps to undertake to efficiently achieve compliance and provide you with peace of mind. Once compliance has been achieved, we also undertake to provide ongoing advice tailored to your unique industry and business.

The compliance audits we undertake are particularly useful for Gold Coast businesses that are looking to undertake expansions to grow profit margins, engage in a business or asset sale or operate a start-up company. Start-up companies in particular are vulnerable to the perils of the business world due to the generally limited cash flow and difficulty of developing viable products at the early stages of growth. Without a legitimate and established legal structure, small businesses are vulnerable to adverse action taken by industry competitors or customers.

The way our compliance lawyers approach audits is unique in that not only do we provide you with the necessary steps to achieve compliance, but we also take the time to educate and inform you of a particular industry’s regulations work and how they can best minimise risks moving forward.

REPRESENTING YOUR BUSINESS DURING NEGOTIATIONS

In the event that your business has already been found to be non-compliant, we can represent your business on your behalf to negotiate a solution. We excel at establishing dialogues with regulators and representing your interests in a courteous and professional manner while at all times retaining our commitment to protecting our clients’ interests.

Depending on your industry, the regulator that applies to compliance obligations may be a state-based entity such as the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation or as large as the national-level Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • competition and consumer law
  • confidentiality requirements
  • employment obligations
  • product and food safety
  • import and export restrictions
  • education services
  • care services for children and the elderly
  • trade promotions

DIGITAL COMPLIANCE

Our Gold Coast business lawyers are experts in assisting clients to achieve digital compliance. In an era where more of our daily transactions are occurring online compliance standards also now regulate our online obligations.

FOCUSING ON THE DIGITAL

Our Gold Coast business lawyers are focused intently on the future of legal practice, particularly as it relates to digital compliance standards. Ramsden Lawyers regularly advises on the impacts of technology on contract construction, regulatory impacts to the way you conduct your business online and the impact of digital disruption on how business is conducted more generally. Ramsden Lawyers is at the forefront of cybersecurity as it becomes a more heavily regulated space. We have the experience to advise clients ranging from individuals to large corporate entities on the significance of cybersecurity laws and policies.

In particular we assist clients to achieve compliance in regards to the way they deal with the confidential and sensitive information they obtain the course of business from their suppliers and customers. The most basic step for many small businesses is establishing a legitimate and credible terms and conditions policy to accompany any website that captures or requests the personal information of customers as part of a membership or online community program.

PROTECTING PRIVACY IN THE AGE OF SHARING

Our lawyers understand that the digital trend is transforming the way that the legal relationships between parties in the marketplace are governed. In many cases the trend towards technology reliance improves productivity through automisation processes, however digital disruptive services also mean that more data than ever is being stored online. As a result, businesses have more onerous obligations than ever to protect their customers from privacy and cybersecurity violations and, by the same token, to protect themselves from the risks of incurring fines for any regulatory violations that occur in the spaces of cloud storage, data collection (and analytics) and social media conduct.

As part of the suite of services our lawyers offer to clients, we consider digital compliance to form part of good corporate governance practices both from the standpoint of preventing damage to goodwill and from a risk management perspective in terms of regulatory fines.

PARTNERING WITH START-UPS TO SUPERCHARGE GROWTH

One of the most innovative features of our services involves the partnerships we build with small businesses and start-ups to assist them in integrating digital compliance programs early in the seed and development stages of growth as opposed to having to retroactively implement countermeasures to systemic gaps in company operations once a problem is revealed. Our ability to establish digital compliance programs applies particularly for businesses that primarily or peripherally deal with social media, e-commerce, data storage and cloud computing, data analytics, international data transmissions and mobile apps.

The intersection of digital regulations and technology-infused disruptive services like Uber (and Uber Eats), Airbnb and the Australian food delivery company Deliveroo bring with them a number of important questions regarding how regulations designed for aging business models can keep pace with and impact new services.

The Ramsden Lawyers team can assist all businesses to identify their regulatory risks and plan to meet the requirements specific to their business and industry.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CONSIDERATIONS

While intellectual property is perhaps the most recognisable and enduring aspect of digital compliance law, it remains essential for businesses in order to protect their intangible assets such as name, brand, trade mark and any patents or trade secrets native to their business model. Most recently, intellectual property has become a consideration in the emergent space of 3D-printing where a design can quickly be produced by individuals in their own homes, raising complicated questions about how to protect designs and patterns when they can be replicated so quickly. Our intellectual property lawyers regularly assist clients in registering and enforcing their intellectual property rights to facilitate their ongoing business operations.

E-COMMERCE LAW

While regulations by nature tend to operate within specified borders, e-commerce seeks to transcend geographic confines through technology. As businesses still interact with clients and suppliers there remains an inherent need for our business clients to ensure they are compliance with e-commerce laws and protect their own interests in the carrying out of their business. Businesses of all sizes must especially focus on the duties they owe to customers in terms of competition and consumer law, ensuring safer e-commerce transactions through legally drafted agreements, maintaining data privacy and arranging agreements for licences to software, website building tools and research.

OUR AREAS OF EXPERTISE INCLUDE:

  • intellectual property
  • websites
  • terms and conditions
  • start-ups
  • privacy laws
  • competition and consumer law
  • assessing regulatory risk
  • drafting agreements
  • e-commerce law
  • data collection
  • analytic

PRIVACY LAW

Privacy law is relevant for both individuals and businesses (often times businesses collect the personal information of their clients for business purposes). Our business lawyers can assist you in protecting your personal information from posing a risk of identifying you and can enforce your rights on your behalf.

PROTECTING INDIVIDUAL’S RIGHTS

In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (‘Privacy Act’) regulates the protection of information that is considered personal or sensitive in nature. The Australian Privacy Principles (‘APP’) also outline privacy rules.

Information is considered personal information where it reveals details that would allow another party to identify you, or poses a risk of them identifying you.

The Privacy Act dictates that sensitive information includes the following:

  1. Race and ethnicity
  2. Political stance
  3. Political memberships or associations
  4. Religious beliefs or associations
  5. Philosophical beliefs
  6. Membership of a professional trade association
  7. Sexual orientation or practices
  8. Criminal records.

The Privacy Act also states that other sensitive information includes health, genetic, biometric identifiers and biometric templates. Individuals are entitled to enforce their right to privacy against the types of agencies and organisations outlined under the Privacy Act.

The Privacy Act stipulates that an agency includes a government department or other public position, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Federal Courts. An organisation is said to include individuals, body corporates, partnerships, unincorporated associations and trusts. However, there are some important exceptions, namely for:

  1. small business operators (businesses with an annual turnover under $3,000,000)
  2. registered political parties; and
  3. a state of territory authority, agency or a prescribed instrumentality of a state or territory.

ENSURING WEBSITE COMPLIANCE

In its most basic form, privacy law impacts the way businesses operate their websites. Many business currently are non-compliant. It is an expectation that businesses will have a terms and conditions page attached to their website if they hold or intend to hold any personal information from their customers (this is particularly the case if there is an online membership component to your business’ website). While it may be tempting to copy or borrow from the terms and conditions of similar businesses, this risks breaching the right to copyright of other companies or not having the protections required in place to avoid litigious customers.

ASSISTING BUSINESSES IN MAINTAINING CLIENT TRUST

For entities recognised as organisations under the Privacy Act, our Gold Coast business lawyers can assist in drafting privacy policies to meet your legal obligations and build trust among your clients. Even where the Privacy Act does not mandate that you create a privacy policy, it is considered highly beneficial from the standpoint of ensuring customer confidence as to the security of any sensitive or personal information they provide to you in the course of business or trade. Our Gold Coast lawyers assist businesses with establishing the steps they will use to avoid the improper use, modification and disclosure of any personal or sensitive information obtained as part of the carrying on of their business.

A privacy policy must explain for clients how any personal or sensitive information you obtain will be safeguarded and protected. We work with clients to establish the methods they will use to identify possible privacy risks and how information is disposed of once it is no longer necessary. Businesses should also have in place methods for customers to access their personal data and the procedure for handling any queries on how privacy is addressed in your organisation.

IDENTIFYING RISKS AND IMPLEMENTING SOLUTIONS

Our lawyers regularly assist clients with identifying the risks of their particular business, noting their current methods of operation and noting any multi-jurisdictional factors that any privacy policy must address. Ramsden Lawyers also offers businesses the chance to audit important features of their operations such as what personal information is collected and how it is stored and used.

ON THE LEADING EDGE OF DATA SOVEREIGNTY DEVELOPMENTS

Ramsden Lawyers is proud of its progressive and forward-thinking approach to the way law is practiced and invests significant time in ensuring that it has the requisite skillset to provide advice to its Gold Coast client-base on the impact of cross-jurisdictional business operations.

When foreign jurisdictions are involved, the nature of privacy rights and obligations is subject to change. Data sovereignty is made even more complicated by the advent of cloud-based storage systems that hold data online.

If any data is stored overseas, it is essential that increased protections and procedures be introduced to ensure ongoing compliance with privacy laws, both domestically and abroad. Our lawyers are experts in providing advice on how to ensure our clients retain the protections offered by Australia’s privacy rules and regulations without inhibiting their ability to conduct business across jurisdictions.

OUR AREAS OF EXPERTISE INCLUDE:

  • protecting personal information
  • identifying and enforcing privacy rights
  • introducing terms and conditions to govern website privacy obligations
  • pro-actively complying with privacy laws to build customer confidence
  • identifying current privacy risks
  • privacy in foreign jurisdictions
  • ensuring domestic compliance with businesses operating partially or wholly overseas

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