Leading independent Australian business law firm Hall & Wilcox has launched a market-first app that allows clients to quickly assess whether they require Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval for different types of acquisitions.
The app covers a range of transactions involving agricultural land and businesses, commercial land, residential land, mining or production tenements, interest in a significant agreement, wind or solar power stations, Australian securities and Australian assets. The app also provides guidance on more complex terms and is highly intuitive in applying relevant FIRB rules for different countries.
Hall & Wilcox FIRB specialist Special Counsel Conrad Smith said the app streamlined the complex pieces of FIRB legislation into a decision tree application for both property and entity transactions.
‘Our corporate clients, based either in Australia or overseas, regularly need fast, headline-level guidance on the FIRB rules,’ he said.
‘This digital solution allows clients to find out whether FIRB approval is needed in different types of acquisitions. They also have access to our team if they need deeper analysis.’
The FIRB app takes account of recent Federal Government changes to FIRB rules because of COVID-19, in which the monetary threshold for notification has been reduced to $0, which, among other things, makes all leases over developed commercial land to foreign persons subject to FIRB clearance.
‘Our FIRB app is of vital assistance to clients, especially with these FIRB rule changes, because it enables them to do transaction planning. The new rules are a big change and corporates who are not aware of these rules could be fined and have the transaction reversed if they don’t comply,’ Conrad said.
Director – Client Solutions Peter Campbell said the app was a great example of the firm’s Smarter Law strategy to be more innovative in using technology to assist clients.
‘Smarter Law is about making the complex simple. It’s also about alerting clients to issues they may not be aware of and then solving those issues. We enjoyed building and delivering this app using Checkbox as it allowed us to rapidly bring Conrad’s idea to life. Even better, when the COVID-19 changes came in it was trivial to re-engineer the app to take the new rules into account.’
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