DCCL Resource Centre: Issue 8
7 August 2020
This newsletter contains helpful up-to-date resources for our clients. Our previous resource centre publications are available here. Clients are welcome to raise specific issues which they would like us to comment upon in future publications.
Webinar: Hardship and force majeure provisions
In a recent webinar, Rodney DeBoos discussed various contractual issues facing Australian companies during the COVID-19 disruption, particularly in relation to IP licenses. Rodney provided commentary on the operation of ‘hardship clauses’ and force majeure provisions in circumstances where government restrictions enacted in response to COVID-19 may make performance of a contract difficult or impossible. The webinar also covered other potentially applicable areas of law in these circumstances, including the doctrine of frustration and the possibility that a contractual provision may constitute an unfair contract term under the Australian Consumer Law. A video of the 30 July 2020 presentation and the presentation slides are available here.
Webinar: Compulsory licences and voluntary commitments regarding COVID-19-related inventions
In the second part of his recent webinar, Rodney DeBoos discussed how patented inventions (for example, pharmaceutical products which treat COVID-19) may be licensed on a compulsory basis, including by the Commonwealth government. Rodney also commented on various voluntary commitments made by Australian and international companies regarding technological developments to address COVID-19. As mentioned above, the video of the presentation and the presentation slides are available here.
Webinar: Innovation during the COVID-19 disruption
Jacqueline Simpkin presented a webinar on 30 July 2020 on ways in which the COVID-19 disruption has led to innovation by Australian and overseas companies and individuals. Jacqueline discussed cooperation between companies to design and manufacture ventilators and the Australian regulatory exemptions relevant to this project. She also discussed devices that allow people to open doors without touching them, and new protective equipment for use by medical professionals dealing with potentially infectious patients. A video of the presentation and the presentation slides can be viewed here.
Webinar: Update on the Australian Courts
On 30 July 2020, Chris Jordan and Paul Dewar presented a webinar on the current operation of the Australian courts. Australian courts continue to operate during the COVID-19 disruption, using a combination of in-person hearings and remote conferencing systems such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The courts wish to prevent the backlog of cases that would be caused by delaying hearings, and therefore special circumstances will need to be shown in order to justify a stay until a matter can be heard in-person. A video of the 30 July 2020 presentation and the presentation slides are available here.
In addition, a recent decision of the Federal Court requiring a trial to proceed “virtually” is discussed here.
Privacy obligations of video teleconference providers
This year has seen a dramatic increase in the use of videoconferencing software, both socially and for businesses. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner recently published an open letter to videoconferencing companies (including Zoom, Microsoft, and Google) clarifying the regulator’s expectations of steps the providers should be taking to mitigate privacy risks associated with this software. The letter also set out five ‘guiding principles’ for the providers: security, privacy-by-design and default, knowing your audience, transparency and fairness, and end-user control. These principles, and the open letter more generally, are discussed in an article available on our website here.
Airlines to offer refunds for cancellations caused by COVID-19 restrictions
Qantas and Etihad airlines have each agreed to contact customers to inform them that they are entitled to refunds for flights that have been cancelled or suspended as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had previously raised its concerns with the airlines’ approach to refunds after receiving complaints from customers who were given flight credits rather than refunds. This issue is covered in the most recent edition of our Competition and Consumer Law Update, which also discusses other developments over the June/July period in this area.
Legal Resource Team
If you have any queries, please get in touch with one of the principals in our Legal Resource Team:
Dr Gordon Hughes AM
P: +61 3 9254 2582
Craig Finlayson CTA
P: +61 3 9254 2716
P: +61 2 9293 1048