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Law and Legal Info in the Brief: Act 141, No Resolutions for LLCs, and the HSBA’s PBN Insert on Regulatory Compliance

Hey everyone, today’s Law in the Brief will be really brief!  I got some other interesting information to share as well.

Act 141:  Relating to Small Claims Court; Monetary Limit increased from $3,500 to $5,000

The Hawaii State Legislature was keen on access to justice issues this past session. The big one was ILAF (which I wrote a Civil Beat article urging passage of the bill) and at this past week’s Hawaii State Bar Convention the two attorneys responsible, Mihoko Ito and Gary Slovin, both with the law firm of Goodsill, Anderson, Quinn and Stifel, were recognized with the Ki’e Ki’e Award for their outstanding pro bono work (congratulations).

Anyway, another law making it easier for people to access justice is Act 141. This bill increased the maximum monetary claim that may be filed in small claims court; the prior maximum was $3,500 and with Act 141 it is now $5,000.

This is great for people seeking redress on a smaller level, but had disputes with a monetary value over $3,500.  If you were above that amount you would have to file a claim in another court, which had much higher filing fees. Right now, Small Claims Court has $35.00, whereas Regular Claims it is a $120.00. The advantage of filing in Small Claims as well is that it is typically simple, informal, and the cases resolved more quickly. Many business owners and landlords/property managers use Small Claims Court to resolve problems with damage to or repossession of stolen business property (i.e. shopping carts) and leased or rental properties.

For more information on Small Claims Court click here.

No Resolutions for LLCs

While at the bar convention last week Friday (9/23) I attended both the Corporations and LLC seminars. After all I had just conducted a talk on Business Entity Formation at Hawaii’s first coworking space, The Box Jelly. So I like to keep myself updated, so I can update clients as well. During my seminar, I discussed the difference in terminology between a LLC and Corporation. I also mentioned how important it is to understand those differences. One of the panelists at the LLC seminar proved the point.

Many of the formalities needed in a Corporation, are not needed in a LLC. One of those unneeded formalities are resolutions. The panelist bemoaned how many local bank personnel keep requesting her to draft resolutions for her client LLCs to authorize a loan. Her response, as would be mine to the bank is:

LLCs DO NOT NEED RESOLUTIONS TO AUTHORIZE ACTIONS.

This is one of the things I covered at my talk.  So if you missed my Business Entity Formations seminar not to worry I will be doing one again probably in a month (so Subscribe to this Blawg to find out when).

In the meantime, do not forget to sign up for my next talk on Social Media and the Law this Wed. (9/28) at The Box Jelly, starting 6:00 p.m. It will be $10 for The Box Jelly members and $15 for non-members. Materials are included.

Go to my Facebook page for info and invite. Also I would be happy to do a legal seminar for a gathering of more than 10 people. Contact me for details.

HSBA’s Pacific Business News Road to Regulatory Compliance Insert

Also at the bar convention Pacific Business News was handing out its current issue of (Vol. 49, No. 30). In it (right after the article on Hawaii’s awesome social media stars Toby Tamaye and Melissa Chang!) is the Hawaii State Bar Association’s insert Path to Regulatory Compliance. In it are several brief articles on new laws affecting Hawaii businesses. I recommend checking it out, especially the one on Protecting Gender Expression or Identity in the Workplace on page 11.

You might find that the author and the topic are familiar if you read this blawg regularly.

See you all Friday for Draw the Law wrapping up those worker privacy issues I have been discussing.

*Disclaimer:  This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.

2011 Hawaii Access to Justice Write-Up

*The Social Media and the Law Post for today will come out tomorrow.  Instead, enjoy a special post about Hawaii Access to Justice.
** 6/28/11 – CORRECTION – When I first made this post, I mistakenly made it seem that it was the Mediation Center of the Pacific (located on Oahu) handled all cases in the statistics section.  This is NOT the case.  In actuality it was the Mediation Centers of Hawaii (MCH), which includes all community mediation centers across the State, not just the Mediation Center of the Pacific.  The text has been edited to show this change.  – RKH

I was fortunate this past Friday (6/24/11) afternoon to have time to attend the 2011 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference, hosted at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law.  It was a very interesting and informative Conference filled with a lot of great participation from big law firms to non-lawyers who care about access to justice.

Mediation

I was able to go to the Mediation Effectiveness: When to Use and How to Make it Work workshop facilitated by Tracey Wiltgen, Executive Director of The Mediation Center of the Pacific.  Tracey was able to highlight the serious need of Hawaii to turn to mediation, especially for those in a lower income situation.  With the costs of going to court high, the cutbacks to the Judiciary’s funding, and other governmental services reduced a lot of societal problems have increased.

Here are some interesting Hawaii statistics on mediation, which relate to the Mediation Centers of Hawaii (MCH), which includes all mediation community centers statewide :

  • During the fiscal year of 2009-2010 the MCH served a total of 3,677 cases.
  • During the first three quarters of fiscal year 2010-2011 the MCH served 3,326 cases.
  • Of the FY10-11 cases, 77% of them were court related and they included:
    • 156 Domestic (divorce and paternity)
    • 207 landlord/tenant
    • 182 consumer/merchant
    • 80 Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

Among the subject matter of the cases, the rate at which the parties were able to reach written agreement varied, but in general it was between 45% to 64%. These are very good statistics considering many of these are contentious situations.

For the public, you should ask about mediation.  It is a very good alternative to start with rather than going to court immediately.  Consider that it is less formal, costly, and time-consuming.  The focus of mediation is to facilitate communication and work out an agreeable situation between the two parties, which is sometimes lost in court battles.  It is confidential and you still have the option of walking out on the mediation and going to court.  However, with fees being so high isn’t it worth the close to 50-50 chance that you could workout something you agree with?

For attorneys, I think this is a prime opportunity for many of us to look for new skills and the way we approach situations.  Indeed, we should always have trial attorneys, but that should not be the only image that the public conjures when you say the word “lawyer.”  It is true that non-lawyers look to us for answers and help with their legal problems and mediation is certainly one extra tool to help fulfill that task.

Elder Law

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to my fellow solo practitioner and 2011 Leadership Institute member, Scott Suzuki.  I was able to go to his workshop on Access to Justice for the Elderly and I was shocked to find out that Hawaii did not have elder abuse laws or caregiver neglect.  At best you would have to cobble together different parts of the law to establish a claim.  In addition, the state has no filial responsibility law, which establishes the duty for adult children to care for their indigent elderly parents.

Now, I most people would already have the inclination of, “this Hawaii, we already do that in our culture,” which I agree wholeheartedly.  Having a strong culture that cares about family and friends is what makes Hawaii an awesome place.  However, we should have the laws to back it up.

Lastly, with you many attorneys separate health care planning out from estate planning.  You should consider an attorney that can handle both because consider as you are aging, money does become an issue as does your health, to think that the two are unrelated, and that once you die the medical bills and estate will be resolved by the people you leave behind is disjointed.  I fully agreed you should seek out an estate planner that has empathy for caring for an aging parent and sets up and estate plan that works for not just the parent, but all takes into account the reality of family dynamics.

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For more information:

See the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission

Using Social Media at Work: Part II – DELAYED | Access to Justice

I would just like to inform my readers that this blawg post will be delayed till later tonight, as I have been busy working on some other projects.  However, it will definitely be up today (6/21/11) and will discuss more from the employee’s perspective about their social media usage at work.

Access to Justice Means Giving People the Tools to Get There

In the mean time, here is some food for thought.  Lately, I have been trying to get more involved with access to justice here in Hawaii.  If you read my Civil Beat article, then you know I supported the passage of the increase to ILAF to fund organizations that do good work in terms of making justice accessible for the community.

However, as I stated I believe that there is an information gap as we continue to expand our laws and create a civil society.  Those who do not have access typically are also behind the curve when it comes to technology use because let’s face it, obtaining computers and smartphones may be relatively inexpensive for professionals, but not for others.   The Governor of Hawaii has made a drive to adopt and upgrade our technologies, and I support him in this endeavor.

In my humble opinion, I would like to see as his term continues on a stronger an investment in tools and infrastructure.  Namely,  I really think that we need to get cheap laptops and computers into our impoverished communities, and set-up free wifi spots throughout the State.  Why?  I don’t believe you get to access justice if you do not even know what is going on or where to look.  With infrastructure in place, kids are pretty smart once you give them some educational training, they can then begin seeking out all the knowledge that the web has to offer (i.e. like the information on this blawg).

Communication devices and the infrastructure to support them will bring greater access to justice because the population will be more knowledgeable and have skills needed to survive in this age of digital information.  Simple searches on an easy to use laptop through a public wifi network will bring them one step closer to getting answers or at least asking the right questions, which as many attorneys know all apart of the law.  Just my thoughts on social justice and public expenditures.

Anyway, see you later with my Social Media and the Law post!