Under the Franchising Code of Conduct (the 'Code'), a franchisor is required to update their Disclosure Document annually, within 4 months following the end of the financial year. If your financial year ends 30 June, the Disclosure Document for your franchise network needs to be updated on or before 31 October 2018.

Even if you may not be actively recruiting franchisees, there is always the possibility that either a franchisee or the ACCC will request a current Disclosure Document to be provided within 14 days.

Therefore, it is important from a compliance as well as a risk management point of view to update your Disclosure Document in line with the requirements of the Code.

The main areas of the Disclosure Document that require annual updating include:

  • Details of existing franchisees and franchised businesses which are currently operating in Australia;
  • The number of franchised businesses that were transferred, ceased to operate, were terminated by either the franchisor or franchisee, did not extend their agreement or were bought back by the franchisor;
  • Updates in relation to litigation in respect of the franchise network or intellectual property under which the franchise operates;
  • Details of whether rebates or other financial benefits are received from the supply of goods or services to franchisees, including the name of the rebate provider;
  • Any updates on the amounts in relation to franchise establishment costs and other ongoing payments whilst the franchised business is operated by the franchisee; and
  • Most importantly, your updated disclosure document must contain updated financial records of the franchisor entity. This either includes a financial report for the last two financial years or a current independent auditors report prepared by a registered company auditor confirming the financial position of the franchisor company.

This is also a good time to have Coleman Greig Lawyers make any changes to the Franchise Agreement that may be warranted. You should consider if you wish to grant or limit the ability for it or franchisees to make online sales; what end of term arrangements you wish to impose; what dispute resolution mechanisms you wish to incorporate into the Franchise Agreement; how the marketing fund (if applicable) will be operated and audited.

In addition, you should consider changes to your agreement to reflect any concerns and or issues your business has faced in the last 12 months as well as the legislative changes proposed in relation to the Fair Work Amendment (protecting vulnerable workers) bill.

Intellectual Property

It is also an important time to review your registered trade marks and consider whether any other trade marks need to be registered to protect your brand. You should consider whether your trade marks have been registered in the correct classes and whether there is anything else you can do to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else's brand and that no one else is infringing on yours.

Leases & Licences

It would also be prudent for you to review your leases and licences and consider whether they are due for renewal.

We suggest you review the option clauses in your documentation to ascertain your rights and obligations. We are happy to assist you when it comes time to renew your leases and licences and in negotiating generally on your current and new sites.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.