Hall & Wilcox releases new app assessing transactions for FIRB approval

The app is the first of its kind in the market, and covers various industries

Hall & Wilcox releases new app assessing transactions for FIRB approval

Hall & Wilcox has released a new app that assesses whether transactions require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

The app consolidates rule changes made by the federal government in response to COVID-19 to guide users on FIRB legislation. Special counsel Conrad Smith, who specialises in FIRB matters, said that the app “streamlined the complex pieces of FIRB legislation into a decision tree application for both property and entity transactions.”

The app covers sectors like agriculture, property, mining, energy, Australian securities and assets; moreover, it is the first app of its kind on the market. 

“Our corporate clients based either in Australia or overseas regularly need fast, headline-level guidance on the FIRB rules,” Smith 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.”

An example of the guidance offered by the app is information on the monetary threshold for notification, which has been dropped to $0. Thus, FIRB clearance is required when leasing developed commercial land to foreign persons.

The firm also said the app is also designed to intuitively apply the relevant FIRB rules for different countries.

“Our FIRB app is of vital assistance to clients, especially with these FIRB rule changes, because it enables them to do transaction planning,” Smith said. “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.”

The development of the app is a step in Hall & Wilcox’s Smarter Law strategy, which aims to apply technology in innovative ways to better aid clients.

“We enjoyed building and delivering this app using Checkbox as it allowed us to rapidly bring Conrad’s idea to life,” said client solutions director Peter Campbell. “Even better, when the COVID-19 changes came in it was trivial to re-engineer the app to take the new rules into account.”

In May 2019, the firm also launched CLEAR, an app directed towards self-insurers.

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