Modernising Business Communications & the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
Updated: Jun 10, 2021
The Australian Government is on a roll. First it passed the Commonwealth Registers Act 2020 in June 2020 and the consequential amendments to existing Acts in connection with:
· the introduction of the Directors Identification Number; and
· combining 31 ASIC registers with the Australian Business Register (ABR) to create the proposed Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS).
Then came the ‘Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No.1&3) 2020’’, which will remain in effect until 21 March 2021. The related exposure draft ‘Corporations Amendment (Virtual Meetings and Electronic Communications) Bill 2020’ was issued in October 2020 to allow the Government to consult with stakeholders aimed to make permanent changes to allow companies to hold meetings virtually, send meeting-related materials electronically and validly execute documents electronically under Section 127 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
More recently, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Combating Illegal Phoenixing) Act 2020, came into operation in February 2020 giving regulators additional enforcement and regulatory powers to 'detect and disrupt phoenix activity, and to prosecute directors and other professional advisers who engage in or facilitate this activity'. You can also refer to our related blog on changes to processes for resigning directors.
And now a new Consultation Paper issued by Treasury just days before Christmas entitled - Modernising Business Communications - Improving the Technology Neutrality of Treasury Portfolio Laws.
This Paper is aimed at improving technology neutrality in existing Treasury portfolio laws to reduce costs incurred by businesses when legislation is not technology neutral. The aim is to better reflect the way Australians want to engage and communicate! Hallelujah!
The paper focuses on improving the following areas:
· Written communication with stakeholders
· Improved communication with regulators, including ASIC, APRA and the ACCC
· Signing of documents - over and above those already outlined in the Bill above
· Record-keeping requirements
· Payment method neutrality to advance accessibility, flexibility and efficiency.
The Federal Government and the Deregulation Taskforce is seeking feedback. Interested parties are invited to submit a response to the matters raised in the Paper by 28 February 2021. If you would like to contribute, big or small, now is the time.
This article reflects the state of play as at January 2021.