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Few areas of law offer the variety and dynamic reform agenda that is encountered with superannuation law. Superannuation law draws together traditional corporate, equitable and trust principles with modern legislative initiatives to achieve Australia‘s retirement incomes objectives. The superannuation industry is heavily influenced by public policy, is governed by multiple regulators and a variety of legislation. The industry is characterised by an array of different stakeholders, ranging from peak industry bodies to the Commonwealth Government. A practice in superannuation law therefore requires a truly holistic approach and a willingness to tackle relevant aspects of other laws, including employment law, family law, contracts, insurance and financial services laws generally. This subject examines the development of superannuation in Australia, the interaction between statutory and general law principles, the role played by various entities in the industry, the licensing, conduct and disclosure obligations and recent reforms, such as those proposed by the Financial System Inquiry.
Principal topics include:
- Development and history of superannuation in Australia
- Characteristics of the superannuation industry (eg the types of funds that exist)
- The regulatory environment for superannuation and the role of key regulators: the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
- Interaction of general law and statute in relation to trustee duties, rights and powers
- The trust instrument and key service provider contracts (eg investment management, group insurance, administration and custody agreements)
- Trustee decisions, complaints handling and the role of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT)
- Self-managed superannuation funds and their regulation
- Taxation of superannuation
- Licensing, conduct and disclosure obligations in the superannuation industry
- The superannuation guarantee and other employer obligations
- Recent reforms and reform proposals.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles of Australian superannuation law, including recent developments in this field of law and practice.
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for superannuation law in Australia.
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as insurance and longevity risk, the role and regulation of financial advisers, tax concessions associated with superannuation, and the role of superannuation in Australia’s infrastructure debate.
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework for superannuation and the various stakeholders, including the Federal Parliament, regulators, industry associations and service providers.
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal reforms relating to superannuation.
- Have an appreciation of the wide scope of the practice of superannuation law and how it interacts with other areas of law including family law, privacy, contracts, insurance, succession law and financial services laws generally.
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding superannuation law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of superannuation law.
Last updated: 10 November 2023