Buddle Findlay: Leading lawyers on all things co-operative

Buddle Findlay: Leading lawyers on all things co-operative

This law firm is New Zealand’s leading adviser to co-operatives, mutuals and societies – advising Cooperative Business NZ, and its forerunner, for over two decades now while having played a significant role within NZ co-operative law reform back in the 1990’s.

Buddle Findlay Partner Alastair Hercus talks with Prime Minister Bill English before the 2016 Cooperative Business NZ Annual Awards Dinner held in Wellington.

Buddle Findlay advises businesses operating within co-operative principles on a full range of issues. These include set-up and establishment, capital structure and constitutional issues, securities and financial law compliance, operational issues, mergers and acquisitions.

Partner Alastair Hercus is one of New Zealand’s leading experts on co-operative and mutual business law including optimal structures and advice on legislative issues affecting the co-operative sector here in NZ.  He is an experienced adviser on primary sector issues advising industry organisations and major exporters, such as Zespri International, on regulatory and commercial issues.

Cooperative Business NZ Chief Executive Craig Presland says Buddle Findlay, and Alastair in particular, is a trusted advisor on all legislative and regulatory issues affecting the co-op sector.

“Alastair has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all things co-operative here in NZ. As a key legal advisor in drafting the Co-operative Companies Act 1996, he is very well placed to provide the best legal advice to our Full and Provisional Members, including new start-up organisations as their founders firstly consider the best business model and then seek to draft appropriate and effective constitutions for their respective new businesses,” says Craig.

“From 1993, Alastair worked closely with co-operative and irrigation champion Brian Cameron who chaired our membership organisation at the time. Together, they started the law reform process that culminated in the passing of the Co-operative Companies Act 1996,” says Craig who pays tribute to Alastair’s pivotal role in co-operative law reform while advising the then New Zealand Agricultural Cooperatives Association, now Cooperative Business New Zealand.

Alastair Hercus recounts this key time in this country’s co-operative history.

“The company law process of the early 1990s recommended the abolition of existing co-operative company legislation and that co-operatives could operate satisfactorily under general company law.

“Co-operative companies did not agree with this conclusion and advised the Government accordingly. The Government’s response was to transfer the challenge back to the co-operatives, that is that the co-operatives themselves should develop new legislation which would suit all co-operatives, and then persuade the Government, and Parliament, that it should be enacted.

“Brian Cameron led the response to this challenge. This involved persuading all co-operative companies to work together to reach agreement on proposals for legislation, work with officials on those proposals, and ultimately persuade Ministers and MPs that it should be enacted. This was an unusual process because co-operatives where challenged by the Government to develop draft legislation in the first place, rather than the usual process of legislation being prepared by officials and then co-operatives being consulted on that draft. The process required considerable effort and diligence. Brian was the catalyst for persuading co-operatives to devote resources, expertise and judgment to this challenge.”