COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 and Commercial Leases
Since Scott Morrison announced and released the Mandatory Code of Conduct on 7 April 2020 with respect to commercial and retail leases, lawyers have been waiting for the State governments to pass the legislation by which it is implemented, and assess how landlords and tenants alike are affected in light of COVID-19.
On 23 April 2020, the Victorian Parliament conducted a special sitting in which over 300 pages of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 was passed by both houses and delivered to the Victorian Governor for Royal Assent.
Presuming Royal Assent is granted today (24 April 2020), the many and varied legislative updates will become law in Victoria.
The Act updates much more than the laws relating to leases, but we’ll focus on that for now.
In short, the Act does very little but foreshadows regulations that we are yet to see. What can be taken from the new legislation are:
- The operation of the new regulations can be made to apply as if they were in place as early as 29 March 2020;
- The Victorian legislation has limited eligibility to SMEs with turnover under $50m that are eligible for the JobKeeper supplement.
- We will have to await the regulations to better understand which ‘groups’ of companies are ineligible.
- Commercial licences are eligible notwithstanding they are not ‘leases’ in the eyes of the law.
- No compensation is claimable against the State Government for losses that are incurred due to the implementation of the new laws and regulations.
- The Small Business Commissioner has been granted powers to prosecute breaches of the new laws and regulations.
Watch this space for further updates in respect of the Regulations to come, which we anticipate will shortly follow Royal Assent of the new laws.
Update on 5 May 2020: The Bill has now become an Act, and more information can be found by reading our article dated 5 May 2020, COVID-19 Omnibus Regulations 2020 and Leases in Victoria.
How can DSA Law help?
For more information regarding COVID-19 and Commercial/Retail Leases, read our articles:
- Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial and Retail Leases during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How does the Coronavirus (COVID-19) affect Retail Leases?
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Issues for Businesses in Australia?
- COVID-19 Omnibus Regulations 2020 and Leases in Victoria