The New Personal Property Securities Register

The Australian Government has been planning for some time now to commence personal property securities reform and has begun part one of that process by introducing the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth).

Part two involves the implementation of a national Personal Property Security Register, and this is due to commence in October 2011.

Personal property is any property other than land, buildings, or fixtures, that form part of that land. Personal property can be items such as cars, machinery, crops, or stock – it can also include intellectual property, invoices that have yet to be paid, or rights under a contract.

Personal Property Security is where a party secures an interest in personal property as a security in matters such as the provision of finance or the provision of credit.

Every Australian State currently has a number of registers dealing with personal property securities. For example, New South Wales has the following registers:

  • Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REVS NSW)
  • Security Interest of Goods Register
  • Register of Co-operative Charges

The numerous amounts of registers currently operating throughout the country is why the Australian Government has reformed the system to steamline how Personal Property Securities are registered. The National Personal Property Security Register will also be on-line and will comprise of the combination of existing registers throughout the country. As expected, this is a massive effort.

More details about the new Personal Property Security Register may be found at http://www.ppsr.gov.au/www/ppsr/ppsr.nsf/Page/About_PPS.

What this will mean is that it will protentially be much easier for you to record an interest in personal property that your client has offered up to you as security in exchange for your services.

More updates to follow once the register has been implemented.

Director’s Duties

No matter the size of your company, if you are a director of a company, you have a number of duties and responsibilities to both the company and the public. These duties are primarily imposed by the Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth). In addition to their duties under the Corporations Act, directors have a number of other duties set out in various other legislation as well as the common law.

It is important to understand and comply with these duties. The failure to comply with these duties may result in directors being personally responsible for any loss caused by the breach of these duties, or even criminal prosecution by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

The most significant duties of directors are:

To act in the best interest of the company

A director must act in the best interests of a company and to its shareholders as a whole, ahead of their own personal interest. This can get confusing especially in a situation where the directors and the shareholders are one and the same – a common scenario in small businesses. It is important to remember that the company is considered a separate legal entity, has its own interests, and these interests may not be the same as the director’s interests.

To act with care and diligence

A director must perform their duties with the same care and diligence that a reasonable person would have should they be in the director’s shoes.

To act in good faith

A director must perform their duties in good faith, and dishonestly or fraudulently.

To use their position as a director for the proper purposes

A director has an enviable position that allows them to control the company’s business. It is important that they do not abuse this position to act in their own interest, or the interest of someone else. In addition to this, a director would commonly come into information as a result of his or her position. A director cannot use this information to act in their own interest or the interest of someone else.

To avoid conflicts of interest

Directors also have a duty to avoid any actual or potential conflict between their interests and the interests of the company. This arises from the duty of a director to act in the best interests of the company.

To prevent the company from continuing trade if it is insolvent

A director has a duty to prevent the company from incurring additional debt if there is a reasonable suspicion that the company cannot pay its debts when it falls due. This duty is not exercised for the benefit of the shareholders, rather it is exercised for the benefit of the creditors.

Other duties and responsibilities

There are numerous other laws affecting trade practices, taxation, environmental protection, and occupational health and safety that apply to companies. A breach of those other laws may give rise to a director being held liable for the breach.

Summary

If you are a director of a company, it is important to be aware of the core responsibilities and duties that have been imposed upon you by the law. While your primary duty is towards the company, you also have duties towards the shareholders, creditors, and the public. The failure to comply with these duties may result in directors being held personally liable for breaches of these duties. If you are unclear about the duties you should comply with or you are unsure of where you stand, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.