Modernisation of business registers and the Director Identification Numbers regime

The consultation process has now concluded for the draft Treasury Laws Amendment (Registries Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2018. The broad registry consultation process closed on 26 October 2018, with consultation on registry fees concluding in December 2018.

This draft legislation follows on from the Government’s announcement in the 2018-19 Budget of its intention to modernise the Australian Business Register * and the 31 Australian Securities and Investments Commission *(ASIC) business registers onto a single platform. The modernised registers will be administered by the Australian Business Registrar within the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with the aim of delivering a simpler and faster system for businesses to interact with the Government. ASIC’s registry functions will shift to the new Registrar however it will continue to administer all of its regulatory functions under current ASIC laws.

As part of the registry modernisation process, and in response to a recommendation by the Phoenix Taskforce to combat illegal phoenix activity, the Bill also introduces a Director Identification Number (DIN) regime. Illegal phoenix activity is when a new company is created to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying its debts. Under the proposed new regime, directors of a body corporate registered under the Corporations Act will be required to apply for a DIN within 28 days of becoming a director. The DIN, a unique identifier, will enhance the integrity of company formations and acquisitions by allowing regulators to confirm the identity of company directors and map the relationships between individuals and entities over time. Civil and criminal penalties will apply to contraventions of the DIN requirement, so directors will need to be attentive to the introduction to the regime.

Partner agencies are currently reviewing the consultation feedback and will develop feasible business cases with further assistance from key stakeholders. The Government will review the outcome of the consultation process in 2019, with the modernised system expected to be delivered iteratively.

The above news items are provided as general information in summary form of legislation and are not intended as legal advice.

Please contact us at McGuinnLegal if you would like further information or need specific advice in relation to any of these matters.