Shareholders’ right to information

One of the tell tale signs of a shareholders’ dispute occurs when those with the access to information restrict access to it for others.  It’s very common for us to see this.  There are several reasons why a shareholder may require company information, primarily where a minority or oppressed shareholder loses control and is removed as a director.  There may be reasonable suspicions that the company is financially unstable or the conduct is oppressive to its shareholders.  These scenarios mean that a shareholder is not being provided with the full information on whether they are being oppressed.  On its face the aggrieved shareholder may think that little can be done.  This is not the case as the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) provides for various mechanism for minority shareholders to obtain relevant information from the company.   [Read more…]

When is a company an Australian resident for tax purposes?

A critical component for any person operating a business is understanding the laws regarding taxation.  While the general provisions for taxation, such as the company tax rate, are relatively well known, complexities can arise where companies are unsure whether or not they are based within Australia, and are therefore subject to Australian taxation laws.  In this article, we consider what it means to be resident in Australia under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth)(Tax Act). [Read more…]

Loans from Directors – can they be recalled at will?

It’s not uncommon for Directors or family members to loan money to a proprietary limited company which they are on the board of or where they are related to the major shareholders.  In most of these cases the Director is also a representative of the shareholder.  In a lot of cases, there is no express written terms of the loan and where there are multiple directors that represent all equity holders, they have all contributed funds equally.  Subsequently the question often arises as to whether or not the loan is repayable on demand. [Read more…]

What is a partly-paid share?

It is common to hear people talk about owning shares or equity in a company but what does that actually mean?  Simply put, a share (sometimes referred to as equity in investment settings) is a portion of ownership of a company.  By acquiring shares in a company, the person becomes a member (commonly referred to as a ‘shareholder’) of the company, thereby granting them benefits and rights associated with the class of share that they subscribe for.  These rights can include the right to vote on issues relating to the company and to a distribution of profits (commonly referred to as dividends).  Generally, when people subscribe for shares, they pay the full price of the share upfront, however, it is possible to receive a share without paying the full purchase price – these shares are known as partly-paid shares. [Read more…]

What is an Incorporated Joint Venture?

An incorporated joint venture, also commonly referred to as a corporate joint venture, an equity joint venture or a joint venture company (Incorporated Joint Venture) is a type of joint venture where the participants (Joint Venturers) arrange for the incorporation of a separate legal entity to pursue an agreed business objective.  The Incorporated Joint Venture may acquire assets of the Joint Venturers in exchange for the issuance of securities. [Read more…]

Value shifting in commercial transactions

It seems that everywhere you turn when structuring commercial transactions or when raising capital in Australia, tax issues need to be considered.  “Value shifting” is one such issue. [Read more…]

Can a third party be made to account for a breach of director’s duties?

It is an unfortunate reality that some directors of companies of all sizes engage in conduct that breaches their legal responsibilities.  In circumstances where a Court finds that the conduct of the director breached the standard of care that they owed, the Court has the power to award damages.  What happens, however, where a third party has received a benefit (knowingly or unknowingly) as a result of the director’s breach – can that third party be held accountable? [Read more…]

Holding company liability for debts of subsidiary

When advising on the suitability of corporate structures, we are commonly asked whether a holding company can be liable for the debts of a subsidiary.  The answer (of course) depends on a number of factors. [Read more…]

ASIC v Macdonald – have the lessons been forgotten?

The case of Australian Securities and Investments Commission v Macdonald (No 11) [2009] NSWSC 287 (ASIC v Macdonald) decided in the New South Wales Supreme Court, highlights the importance of strict adherence to the requirements of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) when preparing minutes of Directors’ meetings (Board Meetings) for them to be relied upon as evidence in a proceeding. [Read more…]

Shadow directors and de facto directors

The definition of “director” in section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act), goes beyond directors validly appointed, and includes de facto directors and shadow directors.  This article explores the level of involvement in the affairs of a company that a person must have to be deemed a de facto director or a shadow director. [Read more…]

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