Directors should have the right to keep their home address private

19 February 2024

The Companies (Address Information) Amendment Bill allowing directors to use an address for service where there would be a risk to themselves or their families in making their home address public, is a useful initiative, widely supported in governance circles.

We hope, subject to a couple of important amendments, that it makes it into law. But to make a material difference it needs friends – in particular, the long-signalled introduction of Director Identification Numbers (DINs).

The idea has been banging around since at least 2017, when it was consulted on by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). A key theme of the submissions to that document, including Chapman Tripp’s submission, was that directors should have a free right to protect their privacy by opting for a service address.

So loud was the noise that MBIE ran a separate consultation on the issue in June 2018, although nothing much has come from it yet – proposals from the Labour-led Government for a corporate registry identifier (DINs and beneficial owner identifiers) having stalled.

Although this Bill is being promoted by Labour MP Deborah Russell, ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden, now Internal Affairs and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, tried to promote a very similar measure from the Opposition benches in 2021. We hope that this continues to be ACT’s position and that the Government as a whole will support the Bill.

Russell’s Bill is commendably short (less than two pages) and would create a new section 360D in the Companies Act which would allow a director to apply to the Registrar to replace their residential information with a service address and to have the company make that same change on the public inspection copy of their records.

The basis for the application would be that permitting access to the home address would be likely to result in physical or mental harm to the director or a person the director lives with.

Our recommendations

We think that the Bill is unnecessarily heavy-handed and should be amended so that:

  • Applications can be by way of a simple form rather than having to sign a statutory declaration, and
  • The service option is available as a matter of preference without any need to establish that there is a safety risk.

We hope the Bill receives sufficient support to proceed to Select Committee so we can formally present our submission.

Related insights

See all insights