Modernising Business Communications law passed

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Modernising Business Communications and Other Measures) Bill 2023 has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and is now awaiting Royal Assent. This Bill amends various pieces of legislation to allow the use of modern technology in certain circumstances. Background.

UPDATE: Royal Assent given on 14 September 2023.

The changes include:

1. amending the Corporations Act 2001 to enable all documents under the Act to be signed electronically and for certain documents to be sent in either hard copy or electronic form as well as providing that companies are not required to send documents to a member where contact details are known to be incorrect. These changes will commence on the day after Royal Assent.

2. amending 11 Acts to replace requirements to publish notices in newspapers with a requirement that notices be published in an accessible and reasonably prominent manner. This change will commence within the period of 6 months beginning on the day the Bill receives Royal Assent.

Technology neutral communications: signing and sending documents

The Bill amends the Corporations Act to provide that:
• all documents which are required or permitted to be signed under the Corporations Act can be signed electronically or in wet-ink; and
• documents sent under Chapters 2A to 2M, 5 to 5D, 6 to 6C, 8A, 8B and 9 or Schedule 2 to the Corporations Act can be sent in either hard copy or electronic form.

Lost members

Companies are not required to send documents to a member where the contact details for that member are known to be incorrect.

However a company must attempt to contact a member to whom it is no longer sending documents due to an incorrect address in the period from 6 to 18 months following the point at which they stop sending that member documents. After the end of that period the company has no obligation to attempt to contact the member, provided the conditions for the relief continue to apply.

Publication requirements

Once the provisions comnmence, notices which are required or permitted to be published in newspapers will be able to be published in technology neutral manners which results in them being accessible to the public and reasonably prominent.

In certain instances, notices may need to be published in accordance with a manner determined by the relevant regulator. The regulator can only determine manners of publication which the regulator considers will result in the notices being accessible to the public and reasonably prominent.

The new rules will apply to specified notices under the following Acts:
Competition and Consumer Act 2010
Corporations Act 2001
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
Insurance Act 1973
Life Insurance Act 1995
National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009
Private Health Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2015
Productivity Commission Act 1998
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993
Taxation Administration Act 1953.

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David Jacobson

Author: David Jacobson
Principal, Bright Corporate Law
About David Jacobson
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. It is not to be relied upon as a full statement of the law. You should seek professional advice for your specific needs and circumstances before acting or relying on any of the content.

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