How do you communicate with your colleagues, clients, friends and even strangers? There’s a fair chance that a high proportion of this correspondence is undertaken through electronic means – instant messenger services, SMS or good, old-fashioned email.

Up until now, however, all formal communications between companies and their members are, generally, undertaken through traditional mail, using the street address of each member in the company’s register.

Times are changing! The Corporations Amendment (Modernisation of Members Registration) Bill 2017 (Bill), which is before the Senate, proposes to amend the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) so as to require companies to record each member’s email address in the register of members.

Under the current section 169 of the Corporations Act, a company’s register of members must contain:

  • each member’s name and address and
  • the date each member’s entry to the register was made.

The legislative amendments will introduce a member’s email address as a fourth detail to be recorded in the register.

While seemingly a minor amendment to the Corporations Act, the proposed change affects a requirement relevant to all companies, and we believe it is a positive step towards facilitating easier electronic communication between companies and their members. Indeed, the explanatory memorandum for the Bill expressly states that:

“the inclusion of a member’s email address reflects the nature of modern communication methods”.

This amendment will have a practical and administrative impact on company secretaries, who will need to ensure that the email address of each member is obtained and recorded in the register.

It is proposed that the amendment will come into effect either on a date to be fixed or after 6 months from the day of Royal Assent. We will provide further advice (by electronic means!) once this is confirmed.