Workplace Relations & Safety

We use our extensive experience and knowledge to anticipate issues and deliver quality advice to ensure that our clients maintain practical employment relationships with all their stakeholders.

We advise corporate employers across all industry groups. Our expert team works with our clients to provide timely and practical advice on all aspects of workplace relations as management of staff becomes increasingly intricate and complex in today’s business environment.

Our core capabilities include:

  • Representing clients in courts and tribunals
  • Advising on State and Federal employment legislation and minimum terms and conditions
  • Drafting contracts of employment and employment policies
  • Advising on occupational safety and health matters including defending safety prosecutions
  • Incident response and management
  • Provision of tailored training and board briefings
  • Advising on performance management, misconduct and termination of employment
  • Advising on protected industrial action and enterprise bargaining
  • Discrimination, harassment and bullying claims
  • Drafting independent contractor agreements and advising on contractor arrangements
  • Advising on the employment aspects of the sale of businesses

Claims for unfair dismissal, adverse action and discrimination

If one of your former employees has lodged proceedings in the Fair Work Commission, Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission you will ordinarily be required to provide a written response to the allegations and then invited to attend a conciliation conference.

For many employers, the legal process can be daunting particularly where an employer is not familiar with the law, does not understand the potential liability the employer could face and has no prior experience in participating in conciliations. 

Our Workplace Relations Team have the expertise to help and with our fixed fee packages, you can be confident that your legal costs will not run out of control.  In many claims we are able to, for a fixed fee, meet with you to obtain instructions about the claim, provide advice on the merits of the claim and potential liability, draft the relevant response documentation and then represent your business during the conciliation conference. 

Initial consult

If your business is facing difficult employment or safety issues our initial consultation will provide you with the opportunity to meet with one of our senior practitioners for 1 hour for a fixed fee.  The initial consultation will provide you with an opportunity to explain the issues that you are facing, obtain broad advice and determine how next to proceed. 

Employment contract review

Are your employment contracts up to date? We can review your employment contracts for a fixed fee.  As part of this review you will be provided with a report setting out whether your contracts of employment indicate you may be failing to meet the minimum employment standards, highlighting potential problem areas and suggesting how you might best structure your employment arrangements.

Performance management and misconduct

Managing poor performance and misconduct can be difficult especially if your business does not have dedicated human resource personnel.  When poor performance is managed promptly you increase the odds that the employee’s performance will improve minimising the risk of legal proceedings and improving business efficiency.  If it is handled poorly it can take significant amounts of valuable company time, result in litigation and impact on staff morale.

If you need help on managing a particular employee our Workplace Relations Team can guide you through the process advising of your rights and obligations and providing practical assistance in drafting communications to the employee. 

We also can prepare a tailored performance management and misconduct guides for your business so that your managers and supervisors have the information needed to appropriately respond to such situations when they arise.  If required we can also run training sessions for your business on successful performance and misconduct management.

HR hotline

Many businesses do not have the ability to have dedicated internal human resources advisors.  In these circumstances we often see that this role ends up falling back to financial staff or senior management who often do not have the time nor the specialist experience to adequately deal with the day to day employment issues that arise in the workplace.

We can provide businesses with the ability to alleviate the pressure by offering a HR Hotline advisory service where we provide the business with access to the members of our Workplace Relations Team for a set monthly retainer.  Providing your business with the security that you can call our team as and when issues arise to get the right advice and determine what needs to happen.  Our team are well regarded as trusted advisors for many businesses.

Migration and Australian Visa Services

Many businesses either employ a person who is foreign, or have a need to bring a foreign person to Australia to fill a position in their business.  Any person needing to travel to or live in Australia to work or conduct business must obtain an Australian Visa.  There are numerous Australian visas available for this purpose.  Australian Migration Law is complex and frequently changing and therefore a Registered Migration Agent or Migration Lawyer should be consulted to assist with obtaining the most appropriate visa, especially where longer term visa options are required. 

We have a Registered Migration Agent and Migration Lawyer who is able to provide advice in regard to migration issues and Australian work visas.  We are also able to assist with and manage any visa applications.  In some cases this service can be provided for a fixed fee, which gives the client  the advantage of knowing before the work commences how much the fees will be.

For more information on any of the above please contact Stephen Kemp or Renae Harding on +61 8 9426 6601 on any of these options.

  • We acted on behalf of a large Port Authority, negotiating a new enterprise agreement for a large portion of its workforce. 

  • We advised a large WA company in its acquisition of another company and regarding the Fair Work Act’s associated transfer of business provisions, including the transfer of employees and employee entitlements. 

  • We defended a government shire in unfair dismissal claims.

  • We reviewed an environmental services company’s employment contracts to ensure compliance with the new Modern Awards. 

  • We advised a large mining company on restructuring and employee redundancies.
  • We obtained a 4 year Australian working visa for a foreign person, so that person could establish an Australian arm of a foreign business.  We also obtained sponsorship rights for that business so they would be eligible in the future to sponsor additional foreign staff to work in Australia.

Renae Harding


+61 8 9426 6802
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Shannon Walker

Senior Associate

+61 8 9426 6772
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  • 30 August 2017

    Can you successfully rely on a restraint clause to prevent damage to your business?

    Intellectual property, confidential information, clients and employees are among your company’s most valuable assets. Have you put in place measures to protect these assets? 

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 36 Bytes

  • 26 July 2017

    Labor announces “modernisation” of WA’s work health and safety

    The McGowan government has announced it intends to “modernise and consolidate” Western Australia’s workplace safety and health legislation.  It will do this by creating a new Work Health and Safety Bill that consolidates the three primary pieces of current safety legislation in WA, being the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994, and the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Safety Levies Act 2011.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    Download PDF 500 Bytes

  • 22 May 2017

    When can you direct an employee to attend a medical assessment?

    ?Managing ill and injured employees is difficult, particularly when it comes to determining whether you can require an employee to provide further medical information or attend a medical assessment. This alert looks at some of the circumstances in which a direction for an employee to provide further medical information or attend a medical assessment is lawful and reasonable.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 35 Bytes

  • 11 May 2017

    WARNING: Common terms in employment contracts may not meet NES requirements

    Contracts of employment often include clauses which deal with working on public holidays and setting off over award / agreement payments.  Those clauses need to be reviewed following a recent decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission and any necessary amendments need to be drafted carefully.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 36 Bytes

  • 20 April 2017

    Prime Minister announces changes to skilled worker visa scheme: Will you be affected?

    On Tuesday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced substantial changes to the way skilled overseas workers will be able to live and work in Australia. While the announcement has been met with both criticism and praise, a closer look reveals there is still room for skilled overseas workers in Australia but there will be fewer occupations and greater restrictions for potential visa holders.   

    Author: Shannon Walker

    LINK 36 Bytes

  • 23 February 2017

    Fair Work Commission cuts Sunday and public holiday rates for retail and hospitality workers

    The Fair Work Commission has today handed down its long awaited decision on penalty rates, cutting Sunday penalties in the hospitality, fast food, retail, and pharmacy industry awards and public holiday penalties in those industries as well as in the restaurant industry.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 40 Bytes

  • 15 December 2016

    Don't end up a casualty of your casual employees!

    The recent case of Skene v Workpac Pty Ltd [2016] FCCA 3035 in the Federal Circuit Court has considered once again what it means to be a “casual employee” under both the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) and an industrial instrument. The end result has seen the Court find that while the employee was not a casual employee under the industrial instrument, they were a casual employee under the FW Act and therefore the employer was required to pay out annual leave.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    Download PDF 42 Bytes

  • 9 December 2016

    On the first day of Christmas, Federal Parliament sent to me, the ABCC

    The Australian Building and Construction Commission was re-established on 1 December 2016.  The Christmas gifts keep on coming with two new codes introduced which apply to Commonwealth and WA State funded building work.

    Author: Renae Harding

    PDF 0 Bytes

  • 30 November 2016

    Independent contractors: Roosters, ducks or chickens - which will come home to roost?

    The question of whether a relationship is a true independent contractor relationship or one of employer and employee remains a vexed question, but one that can have alarmingly significant consequences.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 40 Bytes

  • 22 September 2016

    Federal Court slams "calculated exploitation of vulnerable workforce" in another sham contracting prosecution

    The Fair Work Ombudsman has been successful in prosecuting a cleaning company for over 36 breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act). The breaches primarily relate to the engagement of vulnerable workers as “independent contractors” when they were in fact clearly employees. Her Honour Katzmann J summarised the case as being about “the calculated exploitation of a vulnerable workforce”.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 5 September 2016

    Hospitality and tourism awards to change: New annual leave requirements

    The Fair Work Commission has announced that the annual leave provisions of most Modern Awards will be amended. The changes affect many of the major Hospitality & Tourism Awards, including the Hospitality Industry (General) Award and Restaurant Industry Award.

    Author: Shannon Walker

    LINK 39 Bytes

  • 12 July 2016

    Pubs, clubs & trip hazards: Worksafe WA are targeting restaurants and clubs this new financial year

    Worksafe WA have announced they will have a proactive inspection program in place for the restaurant and café sector during the 2016/2017 financial year in order to ensure the industry’s compliance with occupational safety and
    health laws.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Richard Sandover, Shannon Walker

    LINK 29 Bytes

  • 30 June 2016

    State Wage Case 2016: Increase to state minimum wage and award rates

    The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission issued the State Wage Case on 10 June 2016. The following increases have effect from 1 July 2016.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 27 Bytes

  • 7 June 2016

    Annual Wage Review 2015 - 2016: National minimum wage and award wages up by 2.4% from 1 July

    The Expert Panel of the Fair Work Commission issued the Annual Wage Review 2015 - 2016 decision and statement on 31 May 2016. The wage increases set out in the decision will come into effect from 1 July 2016.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 27 Bytes

  • 3 June 2016

    Work Health and Safety in WA: Have your say - public comment now open

    On 1 June 2016, Worksafe WA released a discussion paper on its review of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations and consequent recommendations.  Western Australians now have until 31 August 2016 to comment on the proposed regulations before the State Government determines its final position.


    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 18 Bytes

  • 23 May 2016

    Australian Tourism and Hospitality Employers: Fast Facts

    Tourism is a booming industry in Australia and this article highlights those workplace laws that may have particular significance for those employers operating in this developing area.

    Authors: Richard Sandover, Shannon Walker

    LINK 28 Bytes

  • 6 May 2016

    Watch out - will your sites be compliant when WorkSafe calls?

    A recent WorkaSafe media release has advised that their recent inspection blitz aimed at construction sites in the Perth CBD has reported a high level of compliance with workplace safety laws.

    The main goal in carrying out this program was to ensure construction sites were adequately prepared to protect the public in the immediate vicinity of the activity
    The findings showed that a total of 44 construction sites were inspected, resulting in 20 improvement notices and 195 verbal directions being issued to improve site safety.

    Authors: Basil Georgiou, Renae Harding, Matthew Lang

    LINK 42 Bytes

  • 2 May 2016

    Criminal activity and your employees: why you should exercise caution before hiring or firing employees based on criminal conduct

    While it may appear obvious that an employer is entitled to hire and fire employees with reference to serious criminal conduct, both the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRC Act) and recent unfair dismissal cases make clear that employers should proceed with caution before making any prejudicial decision based on these factors. 

    Author: Shannon Walker

    LINK 39 Bytes

  • 22 December 2015

    Update: RSRT order issued 18 December

    Further to our earlier article, over 100 interested persons presented written submissions, material and comments to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) on the draft road safety remuneration order on minimum payments for contractor drivers.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 8 December 2015

    High Court Ruling – Quest breached sham contracting provisions

    The High Court has overturned a decision of the Federal Court which allowed employers to avoid prosecution for sham contracting where the “employee” was engaged as an independent contractor through a labour hire provider.


    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 16 October 2015

    Fast Facts for Employers: Laws You Should Know

    The Fair Work Act 2009 and other legislation imposes requirements on Employers that they are sometimes unaware of. While they are sometimes minor matters, knowing about these obligations could save you time and money in the future, as well as minimise the risk of litigation. In this article we give a brief overview of the most common issues that Employers are unaware of.


    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 1 October 2015

    New Zealand company director sentenced to home detention for safety breaches

    The New Zealand District Court has, for the first time ever, in the decision of WorkSafe New Zealand v Arthur Ernest Britton Britton House Movers Limited [2015] NZDC 2101, sentenced the company director to home detention and ordered the Company to pay $60,000 in penalties.

    The trend to hold company directors and officers personally liable for occupational safety and health failures continues.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 11 September 2015

    Pushing accountability up the supply chain

    The National Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has released a draft order (Order) which places substantial obligations on “participants in the supply chain”, a term that will likely encompass major and minor retailers as well as those businesses that rely on the road transport industry for the delivery or movement of goods.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 43 Bytes

  • 21 July 2015

    The Federal Court declares that it will no longer accept submissions on agreed pecuniary penalties

    In a decision that will have far reaching implications on all civil penalty prosecution matters, the Full Court of the Federal Court has determined that it is not required to receive or act upon submissions from parties as to an agreed penalty.

    Author: Shannon Walker

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 15 July 2015

    Aged care provider’s review reveals $4.8 million in employee underpayments

    Aged Care Services Australia Group Pty Ltd (ACSAG) has recently provided the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) with an enforceable undertaking to reimburse its workers almost $4.8 million dollars, after their own review revealed widespread underpayments over a 6 year period.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 10 July 2015

    Mind the gap: a cautionary tale of extra entitlements for workers

    The full Federal Court decision of Anglican Care v NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association [2015] FCAFC 81 may mean that national system employees receiving workers’ compensation pursuant to the WA workers’ compensation regime may also be entitled to accrue annual leave entitlements.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Alex Lustig

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 6 July 2015

    Labour Hire Workers

    Principal contractors may find themselves unable to pay compensation to labour hire employees engaged by a sub-contractor.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 30 June 2015

    Important changes for employers to note (effective 1 July 2015)

    As of today the minimum wage and award rates will increase at a Federal and State level.

    Author: Renae Harding

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 29 May 2015

    Recent developments in labour hire arrangements – contractor v employee and transfer of business ramifications

    Although labour hire arrangements are often touted as being a simple way to avoid the complexities that come with having direct staff, recent decisions have shown that they can have unintended consequences.
    The following newsletter summarises two recent cases.  The first provides guidance in determining whether a worker is an employee or contractor, and makes it clear that sometimes a worker will be a direct employee regardless of a purported labour hire arrangement.  The second describes how a worker’s service with a labour hire company can be included as direct service with an employer if the worker is made a permanent employee.


    LINK 40 Bytes

  • 22 May 2015

    Phoenix Directors” beware: Directors of phoenix companies held liable for underpayments to employees

    In the recent case of Roberts v A1Scaffold Group Pty Ltd & Ors [2015] FCCA 422 the Federal Circuit Court has held company directors personally liable to pay compensation to former employees for Award underpayments.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 38 Bytes

  • 22 April 2015

    Directors and ex-directors of companies held liable to compensate employee for Award underpayments

    The Federal Circuit Court has used the Fair Work Act 2009 (Act) to hold company directors personally liable to pay compensation for Award underpayments to an employee in Roberts v A1Scaffold Group Pty Ltd & Ors [2015] FCCA 422.

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 39 Bytes

  • 30 March 2015

    Spotlight on PPSA: liability concerns for receivers and liquidators

    The recent PPSA case of Citadel Financial Corporation Pty Limited v Elite Highrise Services Pty Limited (No 3) [2014] NSWSC 1926 (Citadel) brings to light a liability issue arising for receivers under the PPSA.  In that case, a secured creditor, CML Payroll Pty Limited, appointed receivers and managers (Receivers) over a company.  Two other creditors with prior registrations on the PPSR claimed priority over scaffolding in the possession of the company.   Nevertheless, the Receivers entered into an agreement with a purchaser to sell a substantial portion of that scaffolding.

    Author: Hilary Hunt

    LINK 46 Bytes

  • 18 March 2015

    General Protections under the Fair Work Act

    The Fair Work Act prohibits employers taking adverse action against employees because they have made a complaint to their employer that relates to their employment.  But what is a complaint in relation to their employment? Will all workplace complaints made by an employee fall within this protection? In what circumstances could an employer be accused of taking unlawful action against their employee because the employee made a complaint?

    Authors: Renae Harding, Shannon Walker

    LINK 42 Bytes

  • 12 March 2015

    Privacy Act: Anniversary refresher

    Today is the first anniversary of the amended Australian privacy regime.  If you haven’t thought about whether the Privacy Act is relevant to your business, now is the time to do so.

    Author: Elizabeth Tylich

    LINK 40 Bytes

  • 6 August 2014

    ACTU response to proposed budget

    ACTU response to proposed budget: Employer to provide super increases, childcare allowances and reimburse $7 Medicare co-contribution   The ACTU is providing its affiliates with a bargaining toolkit which includes proposed clauses for new enterprise agreements.  The thrust of these clauses is to “claw back” amounts employees will either lose or be required to pay as a result of the proposed budget measures introduced by the Government.  

    The ACTU have made it clear the proposed clauses will not be pursued if the budgetary measures are not passed by Parliament.


    LINK 52 Bytes

  • 1 July 2014

    Increases to the high income threshold and national minimum wage

    The high income threshold under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) is subject to indexation from 1 July each year.  The Fair Work Ombudsman has confirmed that the high income threshold will increase from $129,300 to $133,000 with effect from 1 July 2014.


    LINK 65 Bytes

  • 5 June 2014

    Superannuation guarantee rate will increase to 9.5% from 1 July 2014

    Superannuation guarantee (SG) contributions are the compulsory contributions made by employers into eligible employees’ superannuation accounts.  The Federal Government has confirmed that the SG rate will increase from 9.25% to 9.5% from 1 July 2014.  Accordingly, you should ensure that you are prepared to pay the increased SG rate.


    LINK 36 Bytes

  • 1 May 2014

    The New Federal Building Code For The Construction Industry

    The Federal Government  has introduced a new draft Building Code that has consequences for all construction companies considering tendering for Commonwealth funded building work, setting new standards for enterprise agreements and workplace conduct.


    LINK 20 Bytes

  • 9 April 2014

    Bargaining notices: form and content

    The full bench of the Fair Work Commission has ruled that employers are entitled to give additional information to their employees at the same time as providing them with a notice of representational rights when commencing the process of bargaining for an enterprise agreement.

    However, employees need to be careful that any additional information that they provide to their employers is independent of and separate to the notice itself.


    LINK 36 Bytes

  • 13 January 2014

    Anti-Bullying & Right of Entry Laws

    New anti-bullying and right of entry laws commenced on 1 January 2014.

    The requirement to comply with these measures extends to all organisations which are ‘constitutionally covered’. Generally speaking this includes all Pty Ltd companies.


    Download PDF 477 Bytes

  • 11 July 2013

    Increase to Minimum Wage Rates and Superannuation Contributions

    On of 1 July 2013 a 2.6% increase in the full time National Minimum Wage came into effect. Employers will need to ensure that wages of employees who fall under this award are increased in order to avoid a fine for non-compliance. Accompanying these minimum wage increases will be an increase to the current prescribed rate for superannuation contributions. The previous prescribed rate for superannuation contributions in Australia was 9% and has now been increased to 9.25%. Employers will be required to inform their employees of their additional superannuation contributions and review their record keeping requirements for all employees.


    Download PDF 430 Bytes

  • 17 May 2013

    Changes to rules regarding individual flexibility agreements

    In the recent decision Modern Awards Review 2012 — Award Flexibility [2013] FWCFB 2170 (15 April 2013) (Award Flexibility Decision), the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) decided to alter the model flexibility clause contained in all modern awards. The model flexibility clause allows an employer and an individual employee to enter into an individual flexibility agreement (IFA).

    The proposed changes, which have not yet taken effect, will have a number of practical implications for all employers who have previously, or who may in the future, enter into an IFA with an employee. In particular, employers and employees will not be able to enter into an IFA until the employee has commenced employment, and the notice period to terminate an IFA will be 13 weeks.


    Download PDF 400 Bytes

  • 10 December 2012

    Key changes to the Fair Work Act 2009

    The Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 (“the FWA Act”), which will amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (“the FW Act”), received Royal Assent on 4 December 2012. Most of the amendments will commence on 1 January 2013, while those changes relating to superannuation funds willcommence on 1 January 2014.

    Author: Renae Harding

    Download PDF 419 Bytes

  • 29 October 2012

    Employee’s out of hours use of social media can constitute valid reason for dismissal – The Sequel

    Reinstatement decision upheld on appeal: The Full Bench decision Linfox Australia Pty Ltd v Stutsel [2012] FWAFB 7097 (3 October 2012) reinforces the importance of employers implementing a social media policy and provides guidance as to the circumstances in which an employee’s use of social media may constitute a valid reason for dismissal.

    Author: Renae Harding

    Download PDF 391 Bytes

  • 25 May 2012

    Jackson McDonald 5th time Perth Law Firm of the Year

    Jackson McDonald consolidated its position as the leading West Australian law firm when named Perth Law Firm of the Year at the 2012 ALB Australasian Law Awards in Sydney on 24 May 2012.

    It is the fifth year out of six that Jackson McDonald has won this prestigious award.


    Download PDF 304 Bytes

  • 22 March 2012

    Social media policy key to employee disciplinary action

    The recent case of Stutsel v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd [2011] FWA 8444 (19 December 2011) highlights the importance of employers implementing a defined social media policy and educating their employees about the policy.


    Download PDF 364 Bytes

  • 19 March 2012

    Broadening the scope to discrimination harrassment and discrimination claims in the workplace

    The recent high profile case commenced by Sally Berkeley against Pacific Brands claiming $9 million for bullying and harassment in the workplace, and the earlier highly publicised case of Kristy Fraser-Kirk and David Jones, have served to highlight to many employers why it is necessary to take a proactive and vigilant approach to discrimination and harassment in the workplace at every level of the organisation.


    Download PDF 365 Bytes

  • 13 March 2012

    The New ABCC: The Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate

    The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2012 was passed through the House of Representatives on Thursday 16
    February 2012.

    The Bill, once passed by the Senate, will replace the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (BCII Act) with the Fair Work (Building Industry) Act 2012.

    Author: Renae Harding

    Download PDF 514 Bytes

  • 17 November 2011

    After hours conduct on Facebook a reason for dismissal

    The evolution of social media and its impact on the workplace have been blurring the lines between work and home and presenting new issues for employers to manage.

    In a recent decision Fair Work Australia has held that comments made by employees on Facebook can provide valid grounds for dismissal, even where those comments are made on a home computer and outside of working hours.

    Author: Renae Harding

    Download PDF 511 Bytes

  • 10 January 2011

    Doing Business in Asia Pacific

    Jackson McDonald is a proud member of Globalaw and has assisted in the development of this guide.


    Download PDF 4 Bytes