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Business Law Introduction Problem Solving Assignment
  • 12

  • Course Code: 2105AFE
  • University: Griffith University
  • Country: Australia

Problem-Solving Assignment 1 - Business Structures

Black and White Financial (BWF) Pty Ltd is an established firm of financial planners and advisors who are interested in working together with Grey and Green (GG), an established partnership of Chartered Accountants to help their clients achieve financial success. Grey and Green (GG) provide general small business services, tax advice, auditing and business valuations.  

(a)    Grey and Green (GG) wish to incorporate as Grey and Green Pty Ltd. Can they do so under the By-Laws of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Revised March 2022)? If so, under what conditions? Or are GG restricted to certain practice areas if they wish to incorporate? 

(b)    What business structuring advice would you give the BWF the directors of BWF AND the partners of GG if they wished to maximise the protection of their personal assets from litigation? Why? Explicitly articulate your reasoning with reference to relevant legislation and case law, and common criteria (eg. asset protection, the scope for income splitting) against which you can recommend the most appropriate solution for each firm. 

(c)    Should BWF legally merge with GG, or should it enter a joint venture or other contractual arrangement with GG? Why or why not? Justify your response in terms of relevant legislation, regulation and common law. 

Explicitly state any assumptions you make in your advice, noting that any assumptions must be consistent with the questions asked. Format your advice for each client (GG and its partners, and BWF and its directors) using the ILAC methodology of ‘Issue, Law, Application of law and Conclusion’. 

Question a

Issue

  • What is the feasibility of Grey and Green (“GG") to transition into an incorporated entity named “Grey and Green Pty Ltd” (Facts; pp3.)?

  • Would such a transition align with the provisions outlined in the “Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) By-Laws, revised in March 2022” (Facts; pp3.); would GG's incorporation be potentially subject to any specific conditions under the By-Laws?

  • Would GG's ability to incorporate be influenced by their practice areas?

Law

  • To assess the eligibility for incorporating a partnership as a proprietary company, reference is made to Section 2.3 of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand By-Laws 2022 (Cth, NZ) (“CAANZBL”). S2.3 CAANZBL dictates that for a partnership to incorporate, at least one of its members must be a Chartered Accountant and an active member of CA ANZ.

  • The CAANZBL do not explicitly limit the incorporation based on specific practice areas. This signifies that no predefined restrictions are imposed on GG's incorporation concerning the nature of their practice areas.

  • However, C3.1 CAANBZL mandates that regardless of practice specialization, all members are obligated to uphold high professional standards, ethical conduct, and competence.

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Application

In the context of GG, their aspiration to transform into “Grey and Green Pty Ltd.” (Facts: pp3) is feasible under the CAANZBL. For successful incorporation, GG must ensure that at least one of their partners is a Chartered Accountant and an active member of CA ANZ, in alignment with S2.3 CAANZBL.

With regard to the influence of practice areas on incorporation, GG's decision to operate across diverse practice realms is unhampered by CAANZBL. The CAANZBL' omission of explicit practice restrictions grants GG the autonomy to function within their chosen areas of expertise without regulatory impediments. However, it remains imperative for GG to consistently maintain their professional integrity and competence, as mandated by C3.1 CAANZBL.

Conclusion

In accordance with the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand By-Laws 2022, GG can proceed with their incorporation into “Grey and Green Pty Ltd” (Facts; pp3.). This is contingent upon the fulfillment of the requirement stated in Section 2.3 of the By-Laws, which necessitates the presence of at least one partner who holds Chartered Accountant status and is an active member of CA ANZ.

Furthermore, GG's choice of practice areas is not subjected to any explicit restrictions upon incorporation. Nonetheless, GG should rigorously adhere to the ethical, professional, and competence standards laid out in Clause 3.1 of the By-Laws, regardless of their chosen practice specializations. This approach ensures the maintenance of professional credibility and high-quality service delivery across all practice domains.

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Question b

Issue

  • Black and White Financial: Given their status as a proprietary company, what comprehensive business structuring could be provided to both Black and White Financial (“BWF”) Pty Ltd's directors while optimizing the protection of their personal assets from potential litigation in light of relevant legislation, case law, and key criteria such as asset protection to determine the most suitable solution for each firm?

  • Grey and Green: Given their status as a partnership, what comprehensive business structuring could be provided to Grey and Green (“GG”)'s partners while optimizing the protection of their personal assets from potential litigation in light of relevant legislation, case law, and key criteria such as income splitting to determine the most suitable solution for each firm?

Law

  • Black and White Financial: In addressing the need for asset protection, Section 588G of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (“CA”) plays a pivotal role. It establishes directors' duty to prevent insolvent trading, holding them personally liable for debts incurred while the company is insolvent. To counter this risk, limited liability companies (proprietary companies) offer a safeguard by limiting directors' personal liability to the amount unpaid on their shares.

  • Grey and Green: In the context of partnerships, Sections 8, 9, 12, 14, & 21 of the Partnership Act 1891 (Qld) (PA) governs the legal principles. While partnerships do not grant limited liability, partners can protect personal assets by forming a limited liability partnership (LLP) under the Sections 5, 6, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18, & 20 of the Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000 (Cth) (“LLPA”). This structure combines the flexibility of a partnership with the asset protection benefits of a company.

Application

  • Black and White Financial: For BWF, given their status as a proprietary company, directors should capitalize on the protection offered by limited liability. BWF's directors must ensure compliance with their duty to prevent insolvent trading, as prescribed by S588G CA. By maintaining proper financial records and promptly addressing signs of insolvency, directors can mitigate personal liability risks.

  • Grey and Green: On the other hand, GG, operating as a partnership, can enhance asset protection through the adoption of an LLP structure. This approach shields partners' personal assets from partnership debts, a significant advantage over the traditional partnership structure. S5, 6, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18, & 20 LLPA provides the rudimentary legal framework for establishing an LLP.

  • Applications in Common: Regarding income splitting, Sections 6C, 177D, & 177EA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) (“ITAA1936”) and Sections 165-B, 768-A, 328-430, & 855-10 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth) (“ITAA1997”) come into play for both BWF and GG.

    These provisions of these Acts limit the scope for income splitting through companies by applying the "alienation of personal services income" provisions. In order to optimize tax efficiency and income distribution, both BWF and GG should consider opting for a discretionary trust structure.

Conclusion

  • Black and White Financial: For BWF, leveraging the limited liability inherent in their proprietary company structure is the key. As for safeguarding directors from accruing personal liability in case of insolvency, compliance with the Section 588G of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) should be adhered to.

  • Grey and Green: As for GG, they should consider transitioning into an LLP under Sections 5, 6, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18, & 20 the Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000 (Cth), which will provide the partners with enhanced asset protection against partnership debts.

  • Conclusions in common: Sections 6C, 177D, & 177EA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) and Sections 165-B, 768-A, 328-430, & 855-10 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth) provide guidance in optimizing income distribution through trusts. Both BWF and GG should explore the adoption of a discretionary trust structure to pave the way for efficient income distribution while minimizing tax liabilities by distributing income to beneficiaries with lower tax rates.

In sum, each firm's business structuring should be tailored to their existing legal status; on one hand, BWF can capitalize on the inherent limited liability of their proprietary company, while GG can attain enhanced asset protection via the adoption of a limited liability partnership structure.

Both BWF and GG should, therefore, consider discretionary trusts to optimize income distribution in order to comply with taxation regulations.

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Question c

Issue

  • Should Black and White Financial (“BWF”) pursue a legal merger with Grey and Green (“GG”) or opt for a joint venture or other contractual arrangement?

  • What advantages and disadvantages of opting for a legal merger versus opting for a joint venture is to be considered, taking into account the relevant legislation, regulations, and common law principles?

Law

  • In Australia, Sections 411-414 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (“CA”) governs the legal framework for company mergers and acquisitions, wherein it outlines the process for members' schemes of arrangement, allowing companies to merge by way of court-sanctioned agreements.

  • Furthermore, Sections 45-50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (“CCA”) regulates mergers to ensure they do not substantially lessen competition in the market.

  •  Joint ventures, on the other hand, are subject to contractual principles under the common law. While not being an Australian case, the basic tenets of Contract law is shaped by principles established through case laws such as the landmark case of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company (1893) 1 QB 256, which emphasizes the binding nature of unilateral contracts based on clear offers and acceptance.

Application

S411-414 CA provisions regarding members' schemes of arrangement come into play while evaluating a merger between BWF and GG. While a merger would involve combining the businesses and assets of both entities under a single legal structure, which could lead to synergies, economies of scale, and a unified market presence, this process would necessitate court approval and could potentially face scrutiny from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 1995 (“ACCC”) under S45-50 CCA for potential anti-competitive behaviour.

Contract law principles, as established in cases like Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, underscore the importance of clear terms, mutual consent, and consideration in forming legally binding agreements. Pursuing a joint venture or contractual arrangement would allow BWF and GG to maintain separate legal identities while collaborating on specific projects or ventures, which would provide flexibility and control over the scope and duration of the collaboration.

Conclusion

While considering whether BWF should merge with GG or opt for a joint venture or contractual arrangement, several factors must be weighed; while a merger would create a consolidated entity with potential benefits in terms of efficiency and market positioning, it would be subject to court approval and compliance with competition regulations.

A joint venture or contractual arrangement offers the advantage of maintaining separate legal entities while benefiting from collaboration; it provides flexibility while also demanding careful negotiation and clear contractual terms to establish a legally binding agreement.

Considering BWF's and GG's unique goals, circumstances, and preferences, a joint venture or contractual arrangement may align better with their objectives. However, the final decision should be based on a thorough assessment of each option's legal implications, potential benefits, and risks. Ultimately, consulting legal experts well-versed in company law and contract law is advisable to ensure a well-informed decision that aligns with both firms' long-term strategies.

Also Read Law Sample - Contract Problem Solving Law Issues

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