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Commercial Law Updates

Amendments to the Public Health Act pave the way for the use of infringement notices for those failing to abide by public health laws

Jun 8, 2021 / by Aminiasi Vulaono posted in Commercial law Fiji, Covid19 Fiji, Public Health Act Fiji, Infringement Notices Fiji, Public Health and Covid

On 03 June 2021, the Parliament of Fiji passed the Public Health (Amendment) Act 2021. The Amendment Act introduces amendments (amendments) to Part 7 of the Public Health Act of 1935 (the Act) which deals with all matters relating to infectious diseases.

While the background and explanatory notes of the amendments relate largely to the current Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, the amendments in fact relate to all infectious diseases under Part 7 of the Act including Covid-19.

In this commercial law update we explain the amendments and provide our comments in relation to the amendments by way of guidance and to assist in the current situation that requires all Fijians to work together to do what we can to reduce the transmission of this virus and get back to the way we want to.

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Fiji Employment Law Update: Covid-19 has led to an amendment to the Employment Relations Act

Jun 1, 2020 / by Siwatibau & Sloan posted in Fiji employment law, Commercial lawyers Fiji, Fiji lawyers, Employment Law Fiji, Covid19 Fiji

The Fiji government's response to the public health crisis posed by Covid-19 has been swift, and remarkable. At the time of writing this response based on WHO advice has reduced the known cases of Covid 19 in Fiji to 3 active cases bringing the number down from a peak of 18. This is a notable achievement, but Fiji's success has come with a steep economic cost.  

In our firm's guidance to employers on 18 March 2020 (available here) published just before Fiji confirmed its first Covid-19 case, we noted that employers and employees may find solutions together to respond to the unprecedented situation. This is based on the premise that employers and employees have the option to work together in good faith to find compromises to employment relationships within the law. The unfortunate reality is that if an employer cannot afford meet wage obligations then employment will end for one reason or another. A little over 2 months after Fiji's first Covid-19 case many of us are aware of a number of Fiji employers who have had no choice but to terminate employment contracts, follow redundancy processes or seek to reduce wages. In exercising all of these options the employer still has the duty to act in good faith. 

On 28 May 2020, the Government of Fiji introduced a Bill before the Parliament of Fiji, Bill No. 12 of 2020, that has passed into law as the Employment Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 (“Amendment”). The Amendment has changed Fiji's employment law with the aim of addressing difficulties faced by businesses due to COVID-19. The intention behind the Bill was explained in the explanatory note to the Bill as “to provide for a more realistic work environment which enables the sustainability of jobs and businesses, and to clarify the meaning of “an act of God” in the Act during the COVID-19 period”.

This commercial law update outlines some of the major changes that this Amendment has made to the law, and how it relates to other sections of the Employment Relations Act 2007 (“ERA”) such as termination of employment and redundancy. 

This article is for information purposes only and is not and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We strongly recommend that any employer or employee concerned about an employment law problem or issue should seek legal advice.

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Fiji Law in the time of Covid-19: Commercial Contract Management guidance in a time of uncertainty

Apr 15, 2020 / by Artika Prasad and Seini Tinaikoro posted in Commercial law Fiji, Fiji contract law, Commercial lawyers Fiji, Fiji risk allocation, Fiji commercial lawyers, Employment Law Fiji, Covid19 Fiji, Corona Virus Fiji law, Contract Law Fiji, Force Majeure Fiji

Everyday life has been severely impacted by COVID-19, and even after the pandemic eases or ends we will have to adjust to new ways of conducting ourselves and our businesses. These are likely to include new methodologies to prepare ourselves better to ensure continuity of businesses, and safeguard the livelihoods of employees.

During these testing times, it is easy to overlook important deadlines, legal obligations and those terms and conditions under a contract which continue to run uninterrupted, and the fulfilment of which may be rendered impossible. This commercial law guidance briefly reviews what options may be available under a contract should businesses face difficulty in performing their contractual obligations.

Please note we provide general guidance only regarding commercial contractual obligations in the context of the current pandemic. This guidance does not cover employment contracts as these should be considered separately in accordance with the Employment Relations Act 2007.

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Fiji Employment Law update: Covid-19 pandemic: guidance in a time of global economic downturn

Mar 18, 2020 / by Siwatibau & Sloan posted in Employment Law Fiji, Covid19 Fiji

At the time of writing there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Fiji (following publication of this guidance, Fiji confirmed its first case on 19 March 2020). However the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are being felt in Fiji and particularly in the tourism sector. Through urgent action to prioritise public health that includes stringent measures to limit contact between people, certain countries or regions have been able to control the spread of Covid-19. However, the economic consequences of these sensible measures have been severe and sudden.

It is uncertain how long this period of economic downturn will last, and in this time businesses will have to adapt to survive by exploring innovative options that may include more remote working, less person to person meetings and individuals taking more responsibility to safeguard one another. Employers also have a duty to provide a safe working environment.

In this legal bulletin we provide general guidance from an employment perspective to assist employers and employees to do what they can to minimise the effects of the economic downturn and work within the requirements of Fiji employment law. This is provided from our firm as a small contribution to the current situation and while we hope it is of assistance, please note that it is provided for general guidance purposes only, and it is not intended to be, and nor should it be taken as, a substitute for legal advice.

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