Whitepaper: Australian executives operating in multi-national organisations are at risk

Australian executives at risk

If you are an executive of an Australian company with operations in New Zealand or any other country this whitepaper applies to you. This whitepaper looks into the consequences of non-compliance for both the company and individuals involved, with a focus on New Zealand legislation as a prime example. Abstract Executives are increasingly being held personally liable for breaching New Zealand laws. It is not a sufficient safeguard to have a generic compliance program, one size fitting all offices across the globe, if you want to keep your organisation, and the employees who work for it, safe. At a minimum you must know what the dangers are. Governments everywhere seem to be raising the legal compliance stakes. Not only are individuals being targeted but the penalties that apply are being increased. The vast majority of executives, wherever they hail from, would say that they do not deliberately set out to break the law. The consequences of being caught for non-compliance in New Zealand can be catastrophic, not just for the organisation itself but also for any executives involved. The same applies in all other jurisdictions.

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Whitepaper: An ABC guide to legal compliance

ABC guide to compliance

A legal compliance programme is a set of structures and procedures designed to ensure that an organisation complies with its legal obligations. No single model will suit all organisations, however some key elements should be addressed in all compliance programs.

The following commentary provides an overview of legal compliance and its implementation by way of policy. Our New Zealand partner, MyLawGuide has identified the key elements as typical of best practice when implementing a legal compliance program to deal with an organisation’s legal responsibilities.

The template inside can be used as a starting point to begin planning or updating your company-wide compliance program.

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Reebok’s walk of shame

competition and consumer protection breaches

The Federal Court of Australia has ordered Reebok Australia Pty Ltd (Reebok) to pay $350,000 for making false and misleading representations about the benefits of Reebok EasyTone shoes. Reebok claimed that “if a person walked in a pair of EasyTone shoes, they would increase the strength and muscle tone of their calves, thighs and buttocks more than if they were wearing traditional walking shoes”.

These representations were plastered across shoe boxes, shoe tags, information cards and in-store promotional material. Unfortunately, for the customers who bought these shoes, the court found Reebok had no reasonable grounds for making such claims.

The Deputy Chair of The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s, Delia Rickard, was reported as saying, “where businesses claim their products have certain performance characteristics and benefits, they have a responsibility to ensure that those claims are accurate and supported by credible evidence”.

Although Reebok has imported and sold their EasyTone shoes in Australia since 2009, the proceedings brought by the ACCC were in connection with the shoes’ sale and promotion between 2011 and 2013. The fact that Reebok settled with the US Federal Trade Commission in 2011 for charges of deceptive advertising of “toning shoes” for $25 million, yet still continued with the advertising in Australia, was of particular concern to the ACCC.

Reebok is required to provide customers with a refund of $35 per pair of EasyTone they purchased from September 2011 to February 2013. The Court also ordered Reebok to implement a compliance program.

If your organisation is at risk of breaching Competition and Consumer Laws in your operating jurisdiction, contact us today.