A company is a legal entity and is therefore considered for most intents and purposes as a separate ‘person’. As such, it retains rights of privacy over its financial records. However, certain persons have legal rights to such records:
TYPES OF DISCLOSURE
Large companies have to provide an annual report to members (shareholders).
Public listed companies have strict and ongoing disclosure requirements under the Corporations Act 2001 and ASX rules.
A member has the right to inspect a company’s constitution and amendments thereto and the company register. A member has the right to inspect minutes of certain meetings of the company.
Any director has a statutory right of access to the company’s financial records.
RESTRICTIONS ON DISCLOSURE
However, a member of a company does not have a general right of access to the company’s financial records. The reason is that a Director needs this information for operational reasons and in discharge of his or her statutory obligations as a director, but a shareholder will not generally need to access what might be commercially sensitive and confidential information.
The exceptions to this are if the company constitution allows it or if a court is of the view such access should be allowed, in which case it can order such disclosure.
For further information please contact Peter on 8362 6400 or email Peter Jakobsen. Join our mailing list to receive updates and advice on current issues.