Last Updated on 18 August 2022

By Brent Norling and Anna Cherkashina

Importance of updating company address details on the Companies Register

It is important to keep the company’s address details on the Companies Register updated at all times. Yet, we often come across situations where this does not happen, and what seems like a small omission may lead to serious consequences. For example, important legal documents can be missed, and consequently, judgment can be entered into against the company without the company’s knowledge. Further, there can be personal consequences for company directors under the Companies Act 1993 (“the Act”) if the registered address is unmanaged.

Requirement under the Act

A company must always have:

  • A physical registered office in New Zealand. This is the address where the company’s records (described under s 189 of the Act) are stored.
  • A physical address for service in New Zealand, which can be the same as the registered office or another place. This is the address where legal documents are served.

The registered office and address for service of a company at any particular time are the places that are described as those on the Companies Register at that time. This information is publicly available on the Companies Register website.

Subject to the company’s constitution, the Board of the Company can change the registered office or addresses for service at any time. If the registered office or address for service change, then notice of that change (in the prescribed form) must be given to the Registrar of Companies. Otherwise, the registered office or address for service will remain in the previous place specified on the Companies Register.

Also, s 188 of the Act allows the Registrar of Companies to require a company to change its registered office by notice in writing. In such a case, a company will have two options: change its registered office by the date stated in the notice; or appeal to the Court. Failure to comply with s 188 is an offense and renders every director of the company liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.

If the company’s records are moved to a location other than the registered office, a notice of this must be given to the Registrar of Companies within 10 working days. If the company fails to comply with this requirement, the company and every director personally commit an offense and are liable on conviction to a penalty not exceeding $10,000.

Risks of not updating address details

Section 387 of the Act prescribes how documents in legal proceedings are to be served on New Zealand registered companies. There are several options to serve, however, service by leaving the documents at the company’s registered office or address for service are the most commonly used options. If the office is closed, the documents in question can simply be affixed to the front door.

As a result, if the company’s office or address for service is not updated, the company may risk missing essential legal documents, notices, and deadlines and be subjected to a judgment entered against them or, worse, liquidation proceedings. In our experience, unfortunately, this is common. While in certain circumstances it could be possible to reverse judgment or order that was entered into without the company knowing it, this process is expensive and procedurally complicated as an application to Court would be required.

If any of the addresses are in a building with other businesses, it is equally important to provide full details of the address, such as the level of the building, office number, and/or name. If no details are provided, the service of documents could be conducted anywhere in the building. This could again result in the essential documents being unnoticed by the company.

If the company suffers a detriment as a result of the addresses not being properly maintained on the Companies Register, the director could be personally liable for breach of his director duties.

It is also important to ensure that the address that is stated as the company’s office or the address for service is checked regularly. Some documents, such as statutory demands, when served, have a very strict and short timeframe for compliance, or making an application to set it aside. If that time lapses, the consequences could be serious as there is a risk that the company will be liquidated. If the address is not checked regularly (for example, staff usually work offsite), it is recommended that the registered office and/or address for service are at another location, such as the accountant’s or solicitor’s office.

Our expert receivership lawyers assist clients to navigate this process throughout New Zealand. There are many pitfalls if implemented incorrectly.

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Brent is the Director of Norling Law. He has a wealth of experience in the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Brent is passionate about negotiating favourable outcomes for his clients and able to implement this in his daily negotiations.

Anna practices in the area of commercial litigation and has appeared as Counsel in the District Court, High Court and the Court of Appeal, having successes in all Courts. Anna has a special interest in corporate, insolvency and relationship property law.