From growing cyber concerns to the rising digital transformation of law firms, we bring you a collation of key updates for June 2023.
Inflation eases but not enough for the RBA
Treasurer Jim Chalmers is open to providing further cost-of-living relief. However, it emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy budget surplus to alleviate inflationary pressures.
The recent data showing a lower-than-expected headline inflation figure has reduced the likelihood of a rate hike by the Reserve Bank. However, economists suggest that the central bank may still need to raise rates due to persistent price pressures.
Chalmers acknowledges that the budget surplus for 2022—23 will be more significant than forecasted. However, he rejects immediate spending on cost-of-living handouts. He believes retaining the surplus to navigate the unpredictable global economy and build resilience against uncertainties is prudent. Chalmers also highlights that the government achieved a surplus and provided cost-of-living relief in the May budget without exacerbating inflation.
“Getting the budget in much better nick makes it possible to provide cost-of-living relief for people who desperately need it,” he said.
Increasing Integration of Law Firm Digital Transformation
A report from the Thomson Reuters Institute reveals the level of digital sophistication in law firms is contingent upon integration with firm’s strategy and leadership support. While technology has long been necessary for law firms, there is a growing focus on aligning digital initiatives with firm’s overall strategic objectives. Many firms view themselves positively, considering their digital approach is well planned and proactive. However, challenges arise in executing these plans and determining ownership and goals. Key findings include:
– Early stages of digital strategy: Law firms are divided between those with an established C-suite-level strategy and those without. Many firms are in the process of developing or have launched a strategy within the past two years.
– A positive outlook on digital strategy: Despite limited long-term strategies, firms generally believe they are on the right track, with most of those with a defined C-suite-level strategy rating their digital strategy success highly.
– Ownership and involvement: Executive directors and tech functions typically own the strategy, while attorneys and clients are often left out. Although client service is a goal, clients are excluded from the creation and implementation process. Few attorneys have a stake in the project’s success through mandatory objectives.
– Engagement and challenges: Internal buy-in and engagement pose the most significant challenges in implementing a digital strategy. However, engagement and buy-in are the biggest wins, surpassing benefits such as increased efficiency or updated infrastructure.
Only 25% of in-house lawyers think they’re fully prepared for coming cyberattacks: ACC report.
According to a report by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Australia and Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, only 25% of in-house lawyers feel fully prepared to defend against cyberattacks and cybersecurity breaches.
The 2023 In-house Counsel Trends Survey Report report highlights that 78% of surveyed in-house lawyers consider safeguarding their organisations from cyber threats the biggest regulatory concern in the coming year. In response, 75% of in-house lawyers are enhancing their risk management efforts, particularly concerning collecting, processing, and storing personal data. While technology is seen as a major disrupter, investment in technology is viewed as a means to improve work efficiency and work-life balance.
The report also reveals challenges in digitisation, including limited product knowledge and budget constraints. Additionally, only a small percentage of respondents feel well-prepared for ESG compliance and reporting.
The key dates you need to know for your tax return this year
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is recommending Australians consider waiting a couple of weeks until the pre-filled information from employers, banks and health insurers is added to the online system.
According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), individuals in Australia have until October 31 to file their tax returns. However, the deadline is extended if they use a tax agent. Failure to meet the deadline will result in fines, with a penalty of $275 imposed for every 28 days the return is overdue. This fine can accumulate up to five times, reaching a maximum fine of $1375. Additionally, individuals who owe money to the ATO will have a payment due date, typically in November. If the taxpayer fails to make the payment by the deadline, it will begin to accrue interest.
Electricity prices to rise by up to a quarter in parts of Australia
Electricity prices in several Australian states, including New South Wales, South Australia, south-east Queensland, and Victoria, are set to increase by up to a quarter in July.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has issued its decision on the default market offers that establish the baseline prices for retailers. The AER states these price hikes are roughly half of what could have occurred without government intervention. The anticipated increases range between 19.6% and 24.9% for residents in the affected states, similar to the draft levels announced in March. Victoria has also announced a 25% rise in its default offer.
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