Who can access company information? How can it be accessed? What to do when there are issues / disputes arise with accessing information?
Under Australian corporations’ law, companies are required to retain and make accessible certain records of company activity, including:
- Minutes of meetings
- Share registry
- Company constitution
- Company books and records: including financial reports and director’s reports
Such information is typically only made freely available to members (shareholders) of that company, although in some circumstances this information may not be accessible. When such issues / disputes arise, there are several resolution options available to members (shareholders).
Note, however, that members cannot freely inspect all company records – for example, minutes of director’s meetings. For further information on corporate structures and rules, contact the Quinn Group below.
Accessing minutes of meetings
Company minute books for general meetings of members/shareholders are usually kept at the registered office or principal place of business of that company and must be made available to members without any charge. Fees and charges may only apply if a member requests a copy of the minutes.
If issues or disputes arise with accessing this information, the following options are available to members:
- Negotiation / mediation with an independent mediator
It is a good idea to seek independent legal advice to assist with the mediation process – we can help in this regard.
- Request for amendment
- Court action
This should be a last resort option, and usually only if mediation fails. It is strongly encouraged to seek legal advice before pursing this option.
Accessing company books and records
Companies must record:
- financial statements, notes to those statements and a directors’ declaration about the statement and notes. This is typically retained in a financial report.
These should be made available to company directors at all reasonable times, and annual financial reports should be sent to all members annually.
- A director’s report includes general information about activities of the company, including dividends paid.
Smaller companies are not exempt from this requirement if at least 5% of members request such information be recorded.
If directors or members of a company are not provided with access to company books and records, you should seek our advice to assist you with resolving the issue.
For further information on company and shareholder requirements, or for assistance with company / shareholder disputes, contact one of your experienced solicitors or submit a free enquiry today on the details below.