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Agricultural Law : Changes to Farm Business Debt Mediation Processes pass through Qld Parliament

Creevey Russell Lawyers welcomes the Queensland Government’s passing of the Farm Business Debt Mediation Bill 2016 on 22 March 2017 and says it is pleasing to see the Government shift towards obtaining fairer outcomes for the rural sector.

The Farm Business Debt Mediation Bill’s objective is to provide a process for the efficient and equitable resolution of farm business debt matters between mortgagees and farmers.  The Bill meets this objective by levelling the playing field between banks and farmers who face debt and financial difficulties by setting up a mandatory framework to assist if conventional processes break down between the parties.

From 1 July 2017, the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) replaces the current Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority overseeing the scheme, which has been funded by the Queensland Government.

The new scheme obliges mortgagees to give notice to a farmer allowing him / her to ask for mediation in respect of the farm business debt prior to enforcing a mortgage, with mortgagee’s prevented from enforcing farm mortgages until they have obtained a clearance certificate from QRIDA.

Additionally QRIDA have the ability to prevent the enforcement of a farm mortgage for a period of up to 6 months if the mortgagee fails to give notice, or fails to mediate in good faith.

Farmers do not necessarily need to wait until the bank is knocking on the door though.  Under the Bill, Farmers have a right request a mediation, even if they are not in default and have additional powers to access information from the bank or mortgagee including documents relating to any default.

If you would like to discuss this further with Damian Bell at Creevey Russell Lawyers, please call 07 4617 8777 or email dbell@crlawyers.com.au

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