Legal publications & articles

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Legal articles and general news from BlackmanSpargo Rural Law...

Personal Grievance for Sexual Harrassment

Published on 29/02/2024
Under the Employment Relations Act 2000 (“the Act”), when an employee wishes to raise a personal grievance, the standard time to raise the grievance is 90 days after the employee becomes aware of the reason for which they could raise the grievance. However, the Act was recently amended to add an exception to the 90-day rule. In the specific case of sexual harassment...

Congratulations Veronica MacKenzie

Published on 10/05/2023

Fencing, Trespassing Stock and Wandering Stock

Published on 27/10/2022
With spring now here and plenty of calves and lambs running around, stock control will be an important consideration on every farmer’s mind. On-farm, stock control comes down to adequate fencing appropriate for the type of stock you are containing. However, the law around fencing...

Employing migrant workers has changed

Published on 28/07/2022
Farmers have historically employed migrant workers under the Essential Skills Work Visa. However, as of 4 July 2022, the Essential Skills Work Visa has been removed and replaced with the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Water Services Act 2021

Published on 21/07/2021
The Water Services Act 2021 (“Water Act”) came into force on 1 November 2021. Its purpose is to ensure safe drinking water for all New Zealanders.

New Trust Law to Guarantee Transparency in your Trust

Published on 26/11/2020
For centuries, trust law in New Zealand has been taken from many sources, including the Trustee Act 1956, and court decisions. But 2021 will bring trust law reform, whereby trust law will be contained in one statute, the Trusts Act 2019 (“the Act”). The Act, which...

Say “Goodbye” to the Nitrogen Reference Point

Published on 23/10/2020
March 2020 saw most New Zealanders locked down by a global pandemic, but the rural industry was still very much “business as usual”. During the lockdown period, there were some big changes to the Healthy Rivers Proposed Plan Change 1 (“PC1”), but one overarching factor...

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme

Published on 06/05/2020
Since the Covid-19 Level 4 Lockdown, many people have been taking part in the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Show Us Your Money

Published on 30/03/2020
The end of 2019 marked some interesting changes to the widely used sale and purchase agreement, with the new document minimising the opportunity for purchasers to back out of agreements by reason of ‘failure to obtain finance’. The new sale and purchase agreement (“tenth edition”), which...

BlackmanSpargo will continue to provide legal services

Published on 24/03/2020
BlackmanSpargo is adhering to the government’s instructions yesterday on Covid-19 for businesses to close their doors and for staff to work from home. We will hold meetings at a distance, either by telephone, Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. Please continue to contact us by telephone or email,...

MyMilk is coming to the North Island

Published on 19/02/2020
MyMilk is a wholly owned company of Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (“Fonterra”). It was set up to secure the supply of milk and does not require the supplier to purchase Fonterra shares. MyMilk is a great opportunity for suppliers to supply Fonterra without incurring the cost...

Lessons Learnt in Estate and Succession Planning

Published on 25/11/2019
It is critical that you consider and plan for what happens after you pass away. A death in the family is a stressful event for the remaining family members, and if the deceased person does not have an effective and resilient estate plan in place, the...

September is Wills month

Published on 03/09/2019
September is Wills month and we're supporting the Geyser Community Foundation. If you'd like to make a simple change to an existing Will, to include a gift to the local community through the Geyser Community Foundation (at no charge) please contact us...

Keeping Farming in the Family – a retrospective by Ian Blackman (published in the Dairy Exporter)

Published on 09/01/2019
It has been nearly eight years since I first published my book Keeping Farming in the Family - a guide to farm succession. I wrote the book for the farming community because there was a lack of information in the sector regarding this important topic...

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis)

Published on 31/08/2018
The farming industry and its advisors are concerned about the impact of M. bovis on their farming operation, livestock and livelihood, irrespective of the amount of compensation that may be available from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). While the industry is endeavouring to work towards...

Important Client Update – Anti Money Laundering

Published on 05/06/2018
New Zealand has passed a law called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (we will call it the AML/CFT law). The purpose of the law reflects New Zealand’s commitment to the international initiative to counter the impact that criminal activity has...

Dairy Farm Transactions and Fonterra

Published on 24/04/2018
It is an opportune time to share with you, potential issues farmers need to consider when buying and selling dairy farms that supply Fonterra....

Unjustified dismissal

Published on 04/04/2018
As an employer, it is crucial that you are aware of your legal responsibilities when dealing with your employees. Being unaware of the law or not keeping up to date with changes to the law, will not be a defence if there is a breakdown...

Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year

Published on 24/11/2017
Rachel, Chris & Sandy attended the NZ Law Awards last night at the Cordis, Auckland and were delighted to win the Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year award for the third year running...

NZ Law Awards Finalists

Published on 15/09/2017
We’re proud to announce we are finalists in this year’s NZ Law Awards in two categories: Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year and Employer of Choice for under 50 employees...

Sponsors of NZ Dairy Industry Awards 2017

Published on 17/03/2017
We are proud to again sponsor this year’s NZ Dairy Industry Awards for the Auckland/Hauraki, Waikato, Central Plateau and Bay of Plenty districts. What a great few nights we’ve had at the award evenings...

2016 BlackmanSpargo Sports Scholarship Winners Announced

Published on 15/12/2016
Congratulations to this year’s sports scholarship winners Holly & Luke Gardner and Jordan Berry...

Waikato Regional Council and Healthy Rivers

Published on 26/11/2016
There has been a large amount of publicity on the Waikato Regional Council’s Plan Change 1 for the Healthy Rivers On-Farm Project. This is commonly referred to as Healthy Rivers...

NZ Law Awards Winner!

Published on 25/11/2016
A very proud moment for the BlackmanSpargo team when we scooped this year’s Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year award in Auckland...

Review of Property (Relationships) Act 1976

Published on 03/11/2016
The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 is legislation which regulates the rights of couples to property owned by them and especially property acquired by each of them during their relationship. The legislation is extensive and deals with all relationships that are generally considered to be a marriage...

Guest Blog by Brad Markham & Matthew Herbert – 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year

Published on 03/11/2016
I was chatting to a mate about mating the other day when it dawned on me that we wouldn’t know each other if it wasn’t for the Dairy Industry Awards. People enter the high-profile competition for various reasons. Some 50/50 sharemilkers and contract milkers put themselves forward...

The Exponential Age

Published on 20/10/2016
A very interesting article by S.AG Private & Co. on investing and what the future holds: artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and veal produced in a petri dish! The Exponential Age S.AG Private & Co. Limited is an Independent Investment Advisory Firm. It provides a highly customised and...

A Hollow Victory for Employers

Published on 20/10/2016
Employers should find some comfort in a recent Employment Court decision denying an employee financial remedies because his animal cruelty resulted in an unjustified dismissal. However, despite the outcome being favourable to the employer, the case highlights the cost of defending a personal grievance claim. By way...

Succession Planning – Trust or Company

Published on 12/10/2016
Read Ian Blackman’s article published in the latest Dairy Exporter regarding the importance of starting your succession plan now and having the right structure Succession Planning – Trust or Company?

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Trusts and Legal Structures by Chris Spargo

Published on 04/08/2016
On 22 June, I spoke at the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Growers competition at Mills Reef Winery. This was our first year sponsoring this event and I enjoyed our involvement of supporting another rural industry that is important to our economy and New Zealand. The...

Legal Documents and the Danger of the Internet

Published on 20/07/2016
We all realise that there has been significant change in the way we now communicate. The use of the mobile telephone and the computer allows people to communicate in writing 24/7. The nature of the communication can range from the social all the way through to...

Rural Fires and Insurance

Published on 20/07/2016
A recent decision of the High Court about the danger of burning fires on lifestyle blocks is relevant to farmers. The danger is not only the loss of property, but also the financial liability for putting the fire out. In the New Zealand Fire Service Commission...

Planning ahead reaffirms farming future

Published on 01/06/2016
Ian Blackman’s article in the Coast & Country regarding planning for the future...

Congratulations to Robin Murphy

Published on 20/04/2016
One of our clients has recently been recognised as a driving force behind irrigation development in the wider south Canterbury region. Glenavy dairy farmer, Robin Murphy was one of two recipients of the biennial Ron Cocks Memorial Award at Irrigation New Zealand’s conference dinner in Oamaru...

Investing in Land

Published on 15/04/2016
In these rather uncertain times for farmers, and especially dairy farmers, I thought you might be interested in the article by Jim Rickards entitled “Three Ways Old Money Hangs Onto Its Riches”. Jim Rickards is an American lawyer with interesting and novel views on investing...

Income Equalisation Scheme – Inland Revenue tax relief for farmers

Published on 20/03/2016
The Inland Revenue is offering tax relief to farmers in response to the dairy price downturn. If the drop in the dairy price is having a significant impact on your financial position and you have made deposits into the income equalisation scheme, you should talk to...

The employer’s obligation for safety in the workplace

Published on 20/03/2016
The national statistics on safety in the workplace on farms are sobering. Since the Pike River mining disaster, the number of deaths on farms was greater than the loss of lives at Pike River. The farm employer’s obligations under health and safety legislation...

Changes to Employment Standards

Published on 20/03/2016
As from 1 April 2016, the minimum wage will increase from $14.75 per hour to $15.25 per hour. Although many employees will be paid a salary, it is important to ensure that, in any fortnightly period, the number of hours worked do not result in...

Farm Succession – The elephant in the room

Published on 10/03/2016
Ian Blackman, along with eight other rural professionals from around the country, was part of a roundtable discussion on succession, instigated by MyMilk. Read the recent Dairy Exporter article on farm succession: The Elephant in the Room For more information go to the farm succession website and download the...

Health and Safety Culture in the Primary Industry

Published on 20/10/2015
Although the primary industry is the backbone of our economy, it has one of the highest percentages of injuries and deaths. This may be in part due to the physical nature of the work undertaken. But also it is not until someone close is seriously...

Fonterra Interest-Free Loans and Fringe Benefit Tax

Published on 20/09/2015
A co-operative is about members standing together to help each other. Fonterra is ably demonstrating this co-operative spirit by offering a loan to its suppliers of 50 cents per share interest free, until 31 May 2017. Some owners are concerned about the financial viability of their...

Employment Disciplinary Procedures

Published on 20/08/2015
At the recent update hosted by the Employment Relations Authority we were reminded how crucial it is for employers to have tangible written records of their disciplinary processes. Without this written evidence, it is virtually impossible to successfully defend a personal grievance claim. The good...

Rotorua Lakes Council offer special rates payment to assist dairy farmers

Published on 20/08/2015
Rotorua Lakes Council has responded to the difficult economic condition many dairy farmers are experiencing from the downturn in dairy prices. The council is offering dairy farming category ratepayers the opportunity to defer their first 2015/16 year rates payment, without penalty, until 20th October 2015. This payment...

Farmers advised on succession planning

Published on 07/08/2015
Ian Blackman recently spoke to farmers in Gore as part of Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s winter seminars. See the attached article on Radio New Zealand News

Farm Succession Best Done in Company

Published on 07/08/2015
Ian Blackman spoke at a recent Beef + Lamb NZ seminar on farm succession in Gore. Read this article published in the Rural News on 4 August regarding Farm Succession:


Published on 31/07/2015
With the drop in the milk payout it may be tempting to cut costs by reducing staff numbers. However, as always with employment, making staff redundant is not as straightforward as it seems. To avoid an employee taking a personal grievance, employers need to be...

We can help you with farm succession

Published on 29/07/2015
An interesting article outlining the need to get the right advice...

Meth-tainted homes

Published on 20/07/2015
A recent topical issue that we are coming across more and more is that of meth-tainted homes. We have heard of situations where people move in to a home and then suffer health consequences. When investigating further, they find that the house has been contaminated...

Risk Management

Published on 20/07/2015
Have you thought about what would happen to your farm business and family if you die or become incapacitated? Would the farming operation be sustainable without you? Would the business need to be sold to repay your debts? Would there be adequate income to support...

Housing and Property Update

Published on 20/07/2015
The government is introducing two significant reforms that will affect property transactions and rental properties, including those owned by trusts. IRD numbers and capital gains Currently, anyone who buys a property with the intention of selling it for a gain is liable for tax on any gain...

BlackmanSpargo welcomes two new Directors

Published on 01/04/2015
BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Limited welcomes both Sandy Van Den Heuvel and Rachel Petterson to the firm as Directors and shareholders. Both Sandy and Rachel have been with BlackmanSpargo since its inception in 2003. They specialise in all aspects of rural law with their co-Directors Ian Blackman...

Swedes suspect in cow deaths

Published on 25/11/2014
With more than an 200 cows dead or left with liver and kidney damage, and no definitive answer about the cause, farmers are nervous about what to plant over coming weeks for next winter’s crop. See Ian Blackman’s comments in the October issue of NZ Dairy...

Chris has been appointed to the Geyser Community Foundation Board of Trustees

Published on 21/11/2014
The Geyser Community Foundation exists for the purpose of ensuring charitable gifts in the Rotorua and Taupo districts are managed as originally intended. People can leave money for the benefit of the Rotorua and Taupo communities generally, or set up their own named endowment fund and...

Alterations and Additions to your Cross-Lease Property

Published on 20/09/2014
For those of our clients who have an off-farm investment in the form of a cross-lease residential, rental or bach property, this article is for you. Often, there comes a time where you decide that you would like to add another bedroom, extend the living area...

Listing your Property for Sale?

Published on 17/09/2014
Holding open homes, getting the right price, moving, and finding another property can all be stressful. Before you embark on that process there is one important matter that should be given some serious thought, and that is the terms of the listing authority (or agency...

Averaging of Pay in the Rural Sector – Timesheets are Essential

Published on 20/08/2014
A topical issue for many farmers is the common industry practice of averaging wages for employees over the season. There are many reasons why averaging of hours is preferred. It is difficult to anticipate the hours that an employee will spend working because of the seasonal...


Published on 20/08/2014
It is becoming increasingly common for lenders (usually banks) to require third parties to give guarantees for the obligations of a borrower. Where the borrower is associated with other entities the bank wants to ensure that securities given to the bank by the other entities...

Thinking of building a new home on your farm?

Published on 20/07/2014
As your farming business grows and you need extra accommodation on your property for additional staff, a manager or a sharemilker, you may consider building a new home on your property. While building a new home can be an exciting time, it may also become stressful...

LawTalk Article dated 23 May 2014 on Sandy Van Den Heuvel

Published on 26/05/2014
Jumping the fence -Growing up Sandy Van Den Heuvel never considered one day she would go to university. “It wasn’t encouraged, it wasn’t something my family had done,” she says. So, when, after two decades as a legal executive Ms Van Den Heuvel decided to embark on a...

New Contract Milking Agreement

Published on 03/03/2014
BlackmanSpargo has revised its contract milking agreement. The new agreement contains a number of clauses which are not available under the Federated Farmers’ Contract Milking Agreement 2011. The significant advantages to the BlackmanSpargo contract milking agreement are: The agreement recognises that many contract milkers will be forming...

Ian Blackman’s book – Keeping Farming in the Family

Published on 25/02/2014
In December 2011, I wrote a book called “Keeping Farming in the Family – a guide to farm succession”. My motivation for committing a lot of time and effort to this venture was a compelling desire to help farming families understand how farmland in this...

Independent trustees deemed to have the same intention of the other trustees, even if that intention was unknown

Published on 20/02/2014
A topic of continual interest and discussion is the use of the family trusts in New Zealand to undertake business transactions. Such trusts are commonly referred to as trading trusts. A likely outcome of the New Zealand Law Commission’s review of trusts are higher standards to...

Protecting Your Deposit

Published on 20/02/2014
The Environment With the economic downturn and many businesses still struggling to make ends meet, inevitably some businesses are still at risk of failing. In this environment, it is important for farmers to understand the risks associated with paying large deposits for goods or services. The Rationale So...

Beef and Lamb Seminar

Published on 28/08/2013
Ian Blackman and Chris Spargo were invited to present a paper on succession planning to the Beef and Lamb seminar at Te Kuiti. Over 50 people attended. As a result, the media has picked up the success of this seminar and reported on it. The article can...

The Employer’s Obligation for Safety in the Workplace

Published on 20/07/2013
The national statistics on safety in the workplace on farms are nothing short of appalling. It is a sobering fact that the number of deaths on farms in the last two years was greater than the loss of lives in the PikeRiver mining disaster. In the...

90-Day Trial Periods

Published on 20/07/2013
Employers can offer employment on a trial period of up to 90 days. During this trial period if an employee is dismissed, that employee cannot bring a personal grievance in respect of the dismissal. It is important that employers fully understand their obligations, to ensure that...

Keeping Farming in the Family – A guide to succession planning

Published on 20/01/2013
Over a year has passed since Ian Blackman published his guide to farm succession “Keeping Farming in the Family”. In that time the book has proven to be an indispensable guide for farming families who are interested in creating a workable succession plan. This easy-to-read book...

The Trust Service – Comprehensive Planning

Published on 20/10/2012
BlackmanSpargo has developed a Trust Service which will focus exclusively on trust administration. It is important that trustees' manage the trust properly to ensure compliance with their duties as trustees. This includes meeting with the trustees on a regular basis to review the trust. For trusts with...

Trust Administration and Management

Published on 23/09/2012
Ian speaks about the importance of trust management and administration and planning for the trust, the family and business. Please contact our Trust Service Manager on 07 343 1624 for further information.

Ian Blackman on Farm Succession Planning on Radio New Zealand

Published on 01/09/2012
Ian Blackman was invited to speak about farming succession planning on the radioshow "Nine to Noon" on Radio New Zealand. Please press play and move the dot slightly forward to listen to the recording...

Trust Service

Published on 21/08/2012
You should know that the Government is presently undertaking a full-scale review of the law of trusts. Our firm is closely following the review and we anticipate several law changes. The anticipated law changes are likely to include regulations to ensure that trusts are better...

Trust Administration Best Practice

Published on 21/09/2010
Elise Connor, legal executive and one of our experts on the day-to-day mechanics of trust administration, attended a seminar on trust administration presented by Dean Purdue. Dean, who is based in Gisborne, has been presenting on issues around trust administration and farm succession for many years...

New Book on Succession Planning

Published on 05/09/2010
Ian Blackman has completed the final draft of a book written for farmers on the complex and problematic topic of succession planning.

Emissions Trading Scheme and Trees

Published on 03/09/2010
It is important for farmers to understand how the Emissions Trading Scheme may affect them. The Emissions Trading Scheme draws a distinction between woodlots prior to 1990 and woodlots after 1989. Any farmer who owns a pre-1990 woodlot has the opportunity to apply to the...

Two new lawyers in the rural sector

Published on 01/09/2010
Chris and Ian are delighted that long-time employees Sandy Van Den Heuvel and Rachel Petterson have been admitted to the bar and are now practising solicitors with the firm. Sandy and Rachel have spent the last four years commuting to Hamilton whilst working for BlackmanSpargo...

Fonterra Capital Restructure

Published on 03/03/2010
As a result of last years Fonterra restructure, the old payout is now broken down into the milk price and the dividend. Because sharemilkers had been paid a percentage of the payout, the issue arose between owners and sharemilkers as to whether the sharemilker should...

Succession Planning for Dairy Farmers

Published on 03/02/2010
My experience of succession planning is almost exclusively limited to the rural sector, and particularly the dairy industry. In the rural sector, the term succession planning refers to the process by which farm assets transfer to the next generation...

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