The Cost of Inter-jurisdictional Inconsistency of Law and its Application: A Way Forward

Anne Mustow, General Counsel & Company Secretary, Bunnings Group, Australia

This paper discusses the cost to business of inconsistent laws and inconsistent application of equivalent laws between jurisdictions. It suggests that the ‘real’ cost to business, and the flow-on economic cost, of these inconsistencies is perhaps more significant than currently acknowledged. This is particularly the case as markets become more globalized, more businesses become multi-jurisdictional and the impact of inconsistencies in law and its application increase. The inconsistencies create costs and uncertainty for business which inhibit and discourage inter-jurisdictional investment. It is particularly concerning to the extent that these inconsistencies undermine attempts to reduce trade barriers and create free trading zones, or exist within federations. Given the size of this issue, it would be helpful for there to be an economic analysis as to which inconsistencies have the greatest detrimental impact on investment and competition, and therefore pose the greatest economic constraint. These may be inconsistent applications of law, not just inconsistent law per se. There may be some which are a greater threat to business models than others. There is much work to be done, but also much to be gained from removing some of these inconsistencies.

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Australia International Retail January 2018 Vol.11, No. 42, Winter 2018

Anne Mustow

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Anne Mustow’s role at Bunnings includes responsibility for legal, internal audit, customer relations, insurance and company secretarial across Australia and New Zealand. Anne established the business’ in-house legal function 11 years ago, and has managed that function throughout a period of extraordinary growth of the business. In addition to experience as an in-house lawyer at several other large Australian companies, she was formerly a Corporate Partner of Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) and spent 10 years volunteering as a non-executive director on not-for-profit boards. Anne has particular interests in business strategy, maximising effectiveness and efficiency of in-house legal teams and the in-house practice of competition and consumer law.

Bunnings Group

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Bunnings is the leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products in Australia and New Zealand and a major supplier to project builders, commercial tradespeople and the housing industry. Operating from a network of approximately 360 locations comprising large warehouse stores, smaller format stores, trade centres and frame and truss manufacturing sites, Bunnings caters for consumer and commercial customers. Bunnings’ annual turnover in Australia and New Zealand is around A$11 billion, and the business has achieved extraordinary growth since the first Bunnings Warehouse opened in 1994. In late February 2016, Bunnings completed the acquisition of Homebase, the second largest home improvement and garden business operating in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and is in the process of rolling out a Bunnings network of stores there.

Australia International Retail January 2018 Vol.11, No. 42, Winter 2018
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