A tight team with big capability

Who we are

Ford Sumner’s focus on building strong relationships is what makes us special. Our clients trust us to get it right; because we do, many of them have worked with us since we began.

Our team collaborates to provide expert, personal and individualised service. We’re responsive, with a can-do attitude, and we always bring our ‘A’ game.

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Expertise

How can we help you?

OUR PEOPLE

Meet our team

Our team’s big enough to be experts across many fields, and small enough to know and care about each other, and our clients.

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Automated Documents

What does our legal document suite and automation software mean for our clients? Agreements to You is able to produce high-quality legal documentation in a shorter time – and with greater accuracy and less cost.  

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Latest legal news

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Succession Law changes considered by Parliament The Government has recently provided its initial response to the New Zealand Law Commission (“the Commission”)’s recommendations to reform succession laws in New Zealand. Link
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Why do I need a will? Death is the most uncomfortable fact of life. Perhaps this is why less than half of adult New Zealanders have a will. However, there are a number of good reasons to buck this trend by ‘getting your affairs in order’ sooner rather than later. Link
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Employers can still be stung during trial periods A recent decision from the Employment Relations Authority (Authority), Williams v Team One Limited [2022] NZERA 180, is an example of the Authority upholding the important objects of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (the Act) by acknowledging and addressing the inherent imbalance of power between those in employment relationships as well as promoting the enforcement of employment standards. Link
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New immigration settings a green light for New Zealand businesses The government has announced the full re-opening of the border two months earlier than initially anticipated. From 31 July 2022, New Zealand’s international border will open to all tourists and visa holders. Link
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What should I do if I think my employee has committed serious misconduct? Employers were recently issued with a timely reminder to ensure serious allegations against employees are properly investigated prior to taking any disciplinary action. Link
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Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs): A Brief Overview

The highly anticipated Fair Pay Agreements Bill (“the Bill”) was introduced to Parliament this week and is expected to shake up the employment law scene.

The Bill provides a framework  within which fair pay agreements (“FPAs”) can be bargained The Bill’s objective is to “improve labour market outcomes in New Zealand by enabling employers and employees to collectively bargain industry-wide or occupation-wide minimum employment terms.

 
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What do the changes to the COVID-19 traffic light system mean for my business?

With modelling showing an expected decline in the current Omicron outbreak in early April, the Government has confirmed that long-awaited changes to New Zealand’s COVID-19 Protection Framework will shortly come into effect. 

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Solvency – A Plague On Directors’ Minds Solvency issues are top of mind for many Kiwi businesses in the face of the prolonged disruption caused by COVID-19, together with rising interest rates, inflation and supply chain issues. Link
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COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates continue to fall away Fonterra has discarded its strict vaccine policy and is instead allowing unvaccinated staff to take daily rapid antigen tests. Link
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Restraint of Trade Clauses in Employment Agreements – Enforcement remains available to employers.

The Employment Relations Authority (“the Authority”) decision O’Brien v Discovery New Zealand Ltd issued a firm reminder that properly drafted restraint of trade provisions can and will be enforced against employees seeking to jump ship. 

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Vaccine mandate order overturned for Police and Defence Force As it turns out, vaccine mandates may not be enforced as easily as originally anticipated. A recent COVID-19 High Court case has determined the vaccine mandate for police and defence force staff to be ‘unlawful’. The order requiring New Zealand police and defence force to be vaccinated has now been quashed. Link
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New COVID-19 employment case indicates employer’s health and safety obligations to protect employees may be expanding

Does providing public commentary constitute work? A recent Employment Relations Authority (“the Authority”) case suggests it can and highlighted the expectation on employers to take extra health and safety steps for staff if such commentary is resulting in employee harassment.

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Company directors may face personal liability for employment law breaches

Company directors have been put on notice: they may be held to be personally liable for their company’s employment law breaches; even if they genuinely believed the company was complying with its legal obligations.   

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Guidelines for determining COVID-19 commercial rent relief released Following the enactment of the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Act 2021 (“Act”), the Ministry of Justice has now published guidelines to assist parties when negotiating COVID-19 lockdown rent relief agreements. Link
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Buying a Business in Covid-19? Due diligence issues to consider Like many other big decisions, before buying a business you need to ask the right questions.  This is known as due diligence (“DD”) and should involve assessment of the financial, operational and legal affairs of your target business.  Done well, DD will help you to more fully understand your target’s business, identify and assess financial, legal and operational risks and opportunities, and inform whether and at what price, you want to proceed with the acquisition. Link
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Do I Have To Pay My Unvaccinated Employees Redundancy Compensation? What exactly is the nature of an unvaccinated employee’s dismissal under a vaccine mandate? Are such dismissals redundancy situations and if so, will redundancy compensation need to be paid? Link
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Employers put on notice: vaccine mandates not a green light for termination The Employment Court has reinforced the need for employers to follow a robust consultation process when engaging with unvaccinated staff. Link
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It’s go time for Overseas Investment Act reforms – what you need to know about today’s changes Today (24 November 2021) marks the introduction of significant changes to the Overseas Investment Act 2005.  This is the final stage of reform which began in 2018. Link
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Time to negotiate: Commercial rent relief mandate enacted The COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Act (“Act”) has come into force, mandating landlord and tenant rent relief negotiations in the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-August 2021. Link
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Employers Rejoice – Court of Appeal rules discretionary bonuses to no longer be included in Holiday Pay In 2020 the Employment Court in Metropolitan Glass & Glazing Limited v Labour Inspector (“Metropolitan Glass”) turned settled understanding of employers obligations to quantify holiday pay on its head when it determined short-term incentive or productivity-based discretionary bonuses ("STIB” schemes) fell within the definition of “gross earnings” under s 14 the Holidays Act 2003 (“the Act”).

This decision significantly limited the scope of payments that fell outside the definition of “gross earnings”, exposing many New Zealand employers to additional financial liabilities. It meant discretionary payments made under incentive or productivity-based schemes must be included in calculation of an employee’s gross earnings when determining their holiday pay entitlements
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Connecting with each other is vital to all of us, and at Ford Sumner our community’s central to who we are.

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