What’s Ahead For 2023: Horizon Scanning With Practical Law

There is always something new happening in law — new legislation, new regulatory frameworks, new cases that update the law, and more. Legal teams must keep up-to-date with the all the latest changes, and not just in their areas of expertise.

At Practical Law, staying up to date is at the core of what we do and our writing team of specialist senior lawyers have pulled together the key developments they will be monitoring over the coming months and throughout the rest of 2023.

ESG: A Critical Area to Look Out For

ESG remains a hot topic, and global initiatives and standards are impacting all Australian corporates, from advisory and compliance obligations through transactional work and managing corporate governance.

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) sustainability and climate related disclosure standards are expected to be released in Q2. The Australian Government is conducting a consultation on the implementation of standardized, internationally aligned requirements for disclosure of climate related financial risk. The Australian regulators are increasingly active in dealing with greenwashing.

The finance industry continues to respond in the ESG space too with increased use of green and sustainability-linked social loans and new products like blue bonds that focus on projects to support marine environment and orange bonds that look to improve gender equality, particularly for women. 

The Practical Law team is monitoring all of these developments to keep practitioners up to date, not only on what is happening, but on what it means for them as they advise their clients.

Navigating Financial Regulations

Financial services regulation is another vital topic with a host of legislative changes on the way, from regulating crypto currency and refining derivative transaction reporting rules to the financial accountability regime.

A particularly tricky aspect in the finance space is the use of NFTs as collateral, especially what enforcement looks like in the event of a default.

Mastering a Raft of Changes to Employment Law

Australia is in the midst of the most extensive reforms to federal workplace laws in 13 years, with new laws enacted at the close of 2022 and more legislation before parliament. Practitioners are confronted with a slew of new laws that they need to digest, not only so as to understand the substance of the actual legislative changes themselves, but also how the courts and regulators are responding to the reforms and how things will play out in workplaces.

“[I]t is both an exciting and terrifying time to be an
employment lawyer at the moment …”

Linda Taylor, Head of Employment, Practical Law Australia

Big Changes Ahead in the Commercial Space

A major overhaul of unfair contracts is on the horizon with key changes to the Australian consumer law set to commence on 9 November 2023.

The Government released the Privacy Act Review report in February which includes over 116 proposals for strengthening and modernising Australia’s privacy regulatory framework.

The National Cybersecurity strategy is being overhauled federally in the wake of the large scale Medibank and Optus data breaches involving millions of Australians personal information.

There is an enhanced spotlight on bribery and corruption with the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), a body to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption in government transactions, to commence in December 2023. The NACC is empowered to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption occurring prior to the commencement of the legislation together with new allegations, with lawyers keen to ensure their corporate compliance and governance programs are up to date.

The Practical Law team is also keeping an eye on hotly debated issues such as IP ownership and inventorship of generative AI such as ChatGPT. 

Modernising Commercial Property Law and Practice

Queensland’s new Property Law Bill 2023, which will replace the nearly 50 year old Property Law Act 1974 once it’s passed, makes some key changes to dealings with leases in Queensland. Perhaps the most significant change in the Bill is the introduction of a broad disclosure regime for sellers of freehold land in Queensland, bringing conveyancing practice in Queensland closer in line with the position in other states like Victoria and New South Wales.

Further Changes

Legal Practitioners will be anticipating a number of legislative developments in the near future including the following: 

  • Changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) proposed by the Treasury Laws Amendment (Modernising Business Communications and Other Measures) Bill 2023
  • The outcome of the Federal Government’s inquiry into Australia’s corporate insolvency laws.
  • ACCC inquiries into supply chains and pricing structure in a range of areas the subject of cost of living pressure points, including deposit, interest rates, gas and child care.
  • Investigation and enforcement of competition and unfair contract terms prohibitions that are now the subject of higher maximum penalties which were introduced at the end of 2022 and are progressively coming into effect this year.

How Practical Law can help keep you up to date

Access to Practical Law gives you a constantly growing database of resources with over 10,000 relevant up-to-date practical resources at your fingertips in Australia alone. 

The Practical Law team reviews 500+ sources spanning hundreds of topics every day to make sure our subscribers are up to date and the documents they’re preparing incorporate the latest legal insights and legislative and case law updates.

Sources include:

  • new legislation;
  • bills;
  • instruments;
  • regulatory reforms;
  • case law;
  • news items; and
  • other current awareness materials.

Each day, the team spends approximately 200 combined hours – 950 hours per week – using this information to maintain our current content sets and develop new content to ensure that our resources are up to date and topical for subscribers.

In an era of tightened budgets and increasing demand on lawyers to do more with less, Practical Law offers a variety of resources to help lawyers stay informed, empowered and enabled to maximize their productivity. 

Bonus content

A cornerstone document in the Employment module of Practical Law this year is the Key calendar dates for employment practitioners.

This must-have quick reference guide includes the commencement dates for key legislative changes that occurred in late 2022 and will occur throughout 2023 as well as other key dates related to:

  • The annual wage review conducted by the Fair Work Commission.
  • Stage two of the aged care work value case being conducted by a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.
  • Incorporation of the model shutdown term into a majority of modern awards.
  • Consultation on the Fair Work Commission’s Statement of Principles regarding how the FWC will consider particular issues when determining whether a proposed enterprise agreement has been “genuinely agreed” (Statement of Principles).
  • Notable state or territory law reforms.

This is the guide the Practical Law team use to plan their content schedule so it is indicative of the kind of content and resources you can expect throughout the year.

Access your copy of Key calendar dates for employment practitioners by Practical Law via the form on this page.

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