Michael.1
Insolvency and related law and policy, and more

Michael Murray is an Australian author and commentator on corporate and personal insolvency law and related issues, in Australia and internationally. He has a strong law and policy background, is independent of any connections, and his views are his own. He gives no legal advice. 

Gold company director cards?

Directors of companies will finally have an easy way of keeping their company details up to date when the director identity number – the DIN – becomes available, though not until next year. This, and many other features, will be available under the new Commonwealth business registry regime, to be administered by the Australian Taxation Office.

Cards and numbers

As we all know, there are constant requirements for us to prove who we are for banking, driving, sport and many other purposes. To avoid recording our details each time there are allocated cards and numbers and any number of ‘loyalty’ cards – for gyms, health funds, retailers – each offering customers the benefits of prompt recognition, ordering and payment, and more.

As one example, airline frequent flyer cards offer ease of flight booking, with one’s details, payment arrangements, and future and past bookings to be recorded and accessible.

Cinemas offer ready processes for booking movie tickets.

It is expected that the director identity number will have the same sort of benefits. A director setting up various companies over a period of time would not have to restate all the details for corporate registration.

A platinum company director card

With some innovation applied, what might be re-termed the Company Director Card  – platinum, gold and silver depending on the number and size of the cardholder’s companies – could offer speed, security and certainty, with one’s details being accessible through one scan of the card.

While cards and numbers are in fact on their way out, directors should, for the moment take up what is offered by the government as one small step into new technology, knowing that iris and fingerprint identities will follow soon.

How the DIN took off

We should all acknowledge the originator of this innovation – Melbourne law academic Helen Anderson.

My own small part was responding to her phone call some years ago asking for assistance in getting her DIN idea further off the ground, explaining as she did that:

“there are more identity requirements for a person buying a movie ticket on-line than there are for that same person setting up a company and becoming its director and shareholder”.[1]

Anderson correctly foresaw the benefits of such an identifier, including in relation to phoenix and other corporate misconduct.[2]

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[1] See An Ounce of Prevention: Practical Ways to Hinder Phoenix Activity (2013) 25(3) Australian Insolvency Journal 16, Helen Anderson.

[2] Illegal Phoenix Activity: Practical Ways to Improve the Recovery of Tax (2018) 40(2) Sydney Law Review 255, Helen Anderson.

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