Daniel Moulis is the founder and chairperson of Moulis Legal.
Daniel is recognised internationally as an expert in advising and representing clients on cross-border matters, international contracts and transaction structuring, and in major projects. Clients rely on his deep knowledge and experience to introduce clarity and order to difficult challenges and in complex transactions, to help them achieve the best outcomes. He is well-regarded world-wide for his high-level involvement in the study and practice of international trade law throughout his 35 year career.
Internationally, Daniel has served clients in industries encompassing agriculture, building products, chemicals, energy, food processing, footwear, ICT, medical, mining, paper, steel and consumer goods. He has deep expertise in World Trade Organisation trade rules and disciplines, free trade agreements, and international dispute resolution. He has been particularly active in the fields of anti-dumping, countervailing, safeguard measures, customs matters, country of origin, export controls, quarantine and intellectual property rights.
Daniel is also well-known for his representation of clients in their major investments and projects in Canberra and nationally, in many cases with foreign participation. He was Australian trade counsel for the US corporation that undertook the historic Maralinga nuclear test site clean-up. He has worked on complex property transactions for sovereign funds, national property owners, institutional investors, national tenants, developers with triple-A pre-commitments and solar project developers. He has advised on the development of Canberra’s major town centres, on construction and land usage for the Capital Metro Light Rail, and on renewable energy projects both within and outside the Australian Capital Territory.
Daniel also handles dispute resolution in his fields of practice. He has argued cases before many Federal administrative and adjudicative bodies in Australia, including the Federal Court, and has directed proceedings in the European Court of Justice. He has been called upon by the World Trade Organisation as a Dispute Settlement Body panellist on six occasions, and is regularly acknowledged to be amongst the world’s leading international trade lawyers. He is a listed arbitrator under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU, and under the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Southern Africa Development Community.
Daniel is a former Chair of the Trade and Customs Law Committee of the International Bar Association Section on Business Law, and has lectured for the International Development Law Organisation. His past board appointments have included directorships of The Sixth Australian Masters Games, the Johnny Warren Football Foundation and Football Federation Australia.
Moulis Legal’s Alistair Bridges, author of the Australia instalment in Chambers International Trade 2021 Global Practice Guide, says that recent trade tensions are symptomatic of Australia’s uncomfortable position in a fracturing global trade system.
Lawyer ranking agency Legal Media has recognised Moulis Legal Senior Associate Alistair Bridges as a “Rising Star” in the International Trade Law category in the 2020 Rising Stars edition of its Expert Guides publication, the only Australian lawyer to receive this award.
Moulis Legal partner director Daniel Moulis has concluded his presentation to the SAWTR/FICCI Annual Conference on International Trade here in New Delhi by saying:
… if the GATT and WTO Agreements are not suited to present attitudes, trading partners have an obligation of honesty and compromise to find new ways to regulate and new ways to resolve their disputes.
Moulis Legal’s Principal Partner, Daniel Moulis, has told the 4th CNI e IBRAC Seminar on International Trade that Australia’s bilateral trade agreement strategy has been “to go after our biggest trade partners and expand the trade even further”. He contrasted this with Brazil’s strong reliance on the WTO and Mercosur, and the fact that Brazil has no comprehensive bilateral deals in force with any of its top 15 two-way trade in goods partners.
Participants at Moulis Legal’s recent Property Business breakfast seminar were united in their concern and criticism of the present state of the law and administration of mixed-use development in Canberra. Regrettably the title of our event, Canberra’s mixed use development laws – uncool in the capital, matched its verdict.
Join Moulis Legal and a panel of key industry experts for a unique insight into the opportunities and actions for strata reform in the ACT at a breakfast event on 17 May 2016.
Respected law editor Thomson Reuters has published a Moulis Legal-authored guide on international trade and commercial transactions in Australia as part of its International Trade and Commercial Transactions Global Guide.
On Thursday 29 October, Moulis Legal gathered at the Hotel Kurrajong in Canberra with valued clients, friends and colleagues to celebrate a decade of confidence and success.
Moulis Legal is proud to partner with the Property Council’s ACT Division to deliver the upcoming Division Lunch on “Property Investment from China“.
Principal partner at Moulis Legal, Daniel Moulis, told attendees at the Export Council of Australia’s ‘Finding your international competitiveness in Singapore’ market briefing that the importance of Singapore as either a “spoke” or a “hub” for Australian exporters was unquestionable.
Daniel Moulis highlighted the growing familiarity of China as a place for Australians to do business in his address to the ACBC Export Forum at Sofitel Sydney on 15 July 2015. At the same time, he pointed out that it would be a mistake to assume too much, and that gaining a full understanding of both the legal niceties of the deal and your prospective business partners was of critical importance.
Moulis Legal has opened an office in Brisbane, bringing its recognised commercial+international brand of legal advice to Queensland.
Daniel Moulis has been recognised by Chambers Global 2007 as the leading individual for WTO/International Trade in Australia. Chambers Global’s rankings are based on in-depth interviews with corporate counsel and with other individuals responsible for legal service purchasing in client corporations. 2007 was a very active year for us in trade advisory work. Consistent with Chambers Global’s observation that [a]s the practice of international law evolves, the precise location of individual lawyers becomes less relevant, the domicile of our clients and their matters were in many cases external to Australia, with Moulis Legal being appointed as lead counsel for regulatory and commercial matters affecting our clients’ interests in countries such as Japan, China, the United States and Brazil.
3D printers, memory devices – you would be excused for thinking that these were pretty standard products these days. But this is not necessarily the case, as the continuing debate about the dividing line between “benign” and “malign” goods, and the people who trade in them, tell us. The concern of governments around the world extends further, to any new technology that is “uncontrolled” in cross-border trade.
The ACCC’s spotlight on businesses who make false or misleading representations to consumers about their rights under the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”) continues with two more recent wins before the Courts. In separate cases against Apple and LG, the ACCC has confirmed its strong stance and willingness to prosecute businesses who fail to comply with the ACL.
The ability of foreign exporters and local importers to compete in Australian markets will be further compromised if and when new anti-dumping “tilts” in favour of local producers become law. In a move that will be likely to cause concern to Australia’s trading partners, proposals were tabled in Federal Parliament here in Canberra on 13 September 2017 to allow the government to fix prices for imported products in the Australian market at higher levels than the prices in the home market from which they were exported.
There are several major infrastructure projects on the cards for Queensland. High priority State projects include the Cross River Rail and the Ipswich Motorway upgrades – both on the Australian Government’s recently revised Infrastructure Priority List.1 At local government level, the Brisbane Metro and the Sunshine Coast Light Rail Project are also planned.
Australian persons – whether corporate or individual – and Australian government agencies will soon have to shoulder new responsibilities for a data breach occurring anywhere in the world. On 13 February the Government passed new laws said to constitute “some of the most stringent disclosure laws in the world”.1
The Supreme Court of Victoria has held that an Airbnb arrangement is a lease. On that basis the activity of the tenants in letting out their apartment was found to be in breach of a prohibition in their lease against subletting. In another Victorian case, Airbnb hosts had a better result, successfully overturning a body corporate rule seeking to prevent Airbnb arrangements in their building.
Property sale and leaseback, if structured and implemented properly, offers commercial benefits to seller/tenants and buyer/landlords alike. Sellers can release value while retaining use and possession of property. Buyers can secure a long-term and consistent income stream with the upside of property appreciation and future development options.
Canberra’s ambition to be the “coolest little capital” depends on bringing variety and vibrancy into its urban environments. Mixed use developments are on the up. Residential owners are being injected into adaptively re-used commercial precincts, and vice versa. Braddon, New Acton, the Kingston Foreshore and Barton’s Realm precinct incorporate a range of residential, commercial and retail uses within individual sites, with some having received international recognition. The old Manuka precinct will be next, with the Territory having floated the concept of an $800 million redevelopment involving new hotels, serviced and residential apartments, 140,000m2 of retail and office space, underground car parking and a stadium revamp.
Owners and developers of heritage-listed properties in the Australian Capital Territory can now undertake minor development under a very much streamlined approval process. Changes to procedures introduced by the ACT Government in September, now in effect, allow owners of heritage sites to pursue minor developments without a development application (“DA”) if, in the opinion of the ACT Heritage Council, the development proposal is of no significance to the existing heritage values of the site. In effect, some of the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s (“ACTPLA”) power and decision-making authority has been taken away and instead placed into the hands of the Heritage Council.
If Canberra wants a slice of the money expected to flow from the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (“ChAFTA”) it will have to ramp up its efforts to sell its attractiveness as a place to invest, especially in the property market.
The ACT has a Crown leasing system of land ownership. It has always had unique features, but the ACT Government has gone to great lengths to create and emphasise similarities with land title and land dealings in freehold jurisdictions.
Enforcement of Australia’s key military and dual-use goods export legislation – the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (“DTCA”) – has been pushed back by another year, until 2 April 2016. Businesses should take advantage of this delay to get acquainted with Australia’s new, US-inspired export control system, to ensure that they do not run afoul of these new, broad-reaching licensing requirements.
Incentives to enter into leases are consistently offered by landlords trying to secure tenants in today’s commercial property markets. The only questions are how much of an incentive the landlord will provide the tenant, and in what form, and what the landlord will get in return. Landlords want to ensure that any incentive offered to a potential tenant will provide an appropriate return in terms of future rent and lease compliance by the tenant. So when a tenant who has benefitted from an incentive either breaches the lease or wants out of the lease, what can a landlord do to recover its investment in the incentive?
This week the Australian Senate has referred an inquiry into non-conforming building products to the Senate Economics References Committee. The committee’s report is due on 12 October 2015. The terms of reference require the committee to investigate the economic impact of non-conforming products, and their impact on safety, costs and quality of construction.
The proposal by the Federal Government to relinquish planning control over presently undeveloped land to the west of Canberra has sparked strong debate. The land – on both sides of the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee River corridors, and in Namadgi National Park and the western Tuggeranong Valley – is presently locked away from development because of National Capital Authority (“NCA”) controls. If these were to be removed or loosened, then there is every prospect that the local ACT Government will move to revise its own controls to permit suburban development.
Last year, the ACT Government controversially sought to prevent objections being made by third parties against major projects – for example, the major “light rail” project. This was to be done by defining areas as “special precinct[s]”. The proposal “provoked significant public opposition… and sparked a bitter debate in the ACT Assembly”, forcing the government to back down.
In June 2014 BNP Paribas – the fourth largest bank in the world – agreed to pay the US Government USD8.9 billion (this is not a misprint) as part of a plea agreement for conspiracy to violate US sanctions laws. And don’t be too impressed by the magnitude of that settlement, because the penalties that could have been imposed against BNP had it contested the charges would have been much more than that.
The ACT Government has announced a welcome “stimulus package” for the Canberra property and construction sector.
Developers often want to “lock-in” the value of the amenity and design of a new development, such as in a commercial precinct or new suburb. Similarly, residents of a street or suburb often wish they had some way of controlling what their neighbours do on surrounding blocks of land.
Australia is “under new management”. The Liberal National Party (“the Coalition”) was elected as our new Government on 7 September 2013. In the lead up to the election the Coalition pledged to stimulate the agribusiness sector, with the aim of making Australia the “food bowl” of Asia.
In many ways, the 2012 ACT property law year reflected the difficult market conditions which continue to face land development and investment all over Australia.
In many ways, the 2012 ACT property law year reflected the difficult market conditions which continue to face land development and investment all over Australia.
Moulis Legal, based in Canberra, acts for a number of international solar PV industry manufacturers and distributors, and national installers, in importation, business establishment, regulatory affairs, consumer protection, commercial contracting and licensing.
In recent announcements, the Australian and Chinese Governments have suggested that they will re-energise their free trade agreement (“FTA”) negotiations. New enthusiasm for this initiative will be welcomed by traders and investors. However there is nothing to suggest that the negotiations will be any easier than before. The 15 rounds of the negotiations so far, first launched in May 2005, have underlined the difficulties of the exercise. But viewed in a positive light, the talks up to now have exposed the differences in trade policy that exist between the two countries, differences which can now be of greater focus and new bargaining. Other developments in world trade and in the bilateral relationship suggest that there is more at stake than before, adding greater impetus to the negotiations.
According to the 2010 Scorecard of Red Tape Reform released by the Australian Business Council, the Australian Capital Territory (“ACT”) is the worst jurisdiction in Australia for “red tape” in business regulation. This is particularly evident in property development and construction, which is an industry of very considerable importance to the ACT’s economy. Whilst the community recognises that importance, it also values Canberra’s natural environment and the maintenance of good urban amenity, which are major drawcards of living and working in Canberra.
The Members who have negotiated the GATT and the WTO Agreements have to date focussed on the self-interest of their own producers to sell “stuff” to customers in the territories of other Members. Not the same amount of attention has been paid to the interest of a Member in being able to buy stuff from another Member, and the proposition that one Member’s producers should be “forced” to sell to the input users or consumers of another Member has been entirely absent.
The object of Canberra’s Territory Plan is to ensure that planning and development provide the people of the ACT with an attractive, safe and efficient environment in which to live, work and play. With growing demands on the fabric of the Territory, caused by increased population, changing demographics, reduced Commonwealth funding and higher land servicing costs, implementing that “credo” is now a serious job. After a short hiatus caused by the economic slowdown, Canberra’s investors and policy makers are in for a busy year. City planning, energy efficiency, transport, development costs, and retail and tenancy competition are all on the agenda.
Streamlining and expediting the movement of goods across international borders through simplified, transparent customs procedures is essential to boost trade and economic growth. This is called “trade facilitation”. WTO negotiations on trade facilitation began in July 2004, on the basis of the mandate set out in the so-called “July Package”.
In an increasingly integrated world trading environment, globalisation and the threat of terrorism have brought security concerns to the fore. New regulations dealing with everything from container inspection requirements to “trading with the enemy” restrictions are increasingly common. They range from the imposition of sanctions (like export bans) to the regulation of exports and the handling of the product that is to be exported. Most of these regulations are well-intentioned. Some create trade “tilts” between countries, bringing opportunities for some and barriers for others. Strict compliance is essential, in all cases.
The Court of First Instance at Luxembourg has handed down a decision that will further liberalise the treatment of Chinese exporters accused of the practice of selling products at low prices to European customers (“dumping”).
On 24 March 2009 the Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen, and the Home Affairs Minister, Bob Debus, jointly announced that the Government has requested the Productivity Commission, Australia’s highest level economic research and advisory body, to undertake an inquiry into the “effectiveness and impact” of Australia’s anti-dumping and countervailing system.
The two week post-election political stalemate in Canberra has ended with the announcement that the Greens will support the Labor Party’s Jon Stanhope as Chief Minister of the ACT. The Greens have decided not to take up any Ministerial portfolios. Instead the focus of the Greens has been on establishing an agreed Agenda for Parliamentary Reform and a Policy Programme with the Labor Party, representing their vision and their demands for the future governance of the ACT.
The Mortimer review of export policies and programs, entitled Winning in World Markets (“Mortimer Report”) was released on 1 September 2008. It provides an export blueprint for small to medium enterprises (“SMEs”) that are or might become exporters over the next 5 years, and makes important recommendations about how they can be supported in the future.
Daniel Moulis participated in the interesting and topical Commercial Practice in a Global Economy conference in Sydney on 1 August 2008, hosted by the Commercial Law Association of Australia in conjunction with the Ross Parsons Centre of Commercial, Corporate and Taxation Law of the University of Sydney.
Minor changes which have been proposed to the subsidy disciplines of the WTO Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement recognise that the existing Agreement is fundamentally sound, and reflect a widely held view that the interpretation and observance of the rules is a more important issue than what they say.
It can be difficult to mount a legal challenge against an administrative decision, such as a planning approval. Courts require mistakes in the exercise of a discretion to be significant, so that they can be said to amount to an error of law, before striking down a challenged decision.
Proposals for new international rules to deal with issues such as the scope of anti-dumping investigations; the controversial question of “zeroing”; anti-circumvention of dumping measures; and how countries must handle investigations, were circulated for comment late last year in the World Trade Organisation (“WTO”).
Radical last-minute changes to amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974 (“the Act”) present new risks for foreign companies exporting products to Australia at below cost prices, and significant opportunities for Australian industries facing such “dumping”.
Toy recalls, poisonous pet food, poor quality compliance and low labour standards have marred the reputation of Chinese products in the international market place. A recently reported Chinese court judgement about rotten ginger highlights the critical importance of sound contract dispute management procedures and prompt action when something “Made in China” is not as the buyer expected.
Housing affordability is a key policy concern of governments. In Canberra, concerns about affordability are not confined to home buyers or tenants. Similar concerns are shared by commercial property developers, land owners and tenants. A critical element in achieving better affordability, for any of these groups in the community, is land supply. A second critical element is effective competition in the market place.