April 2014

COMPETITION LAW

Commerce Commission sets guidelines for international information requests

The Commerce Commission has released guidelines for Overseas Requests for Compulsorily Acquired Information and Investigative Assistance.

The guidelines set out how the Commission deals with requests for information from overseas regulators made under a co-operation agreement.  The information must be in relation to competition, fair trading or consumer credit law, or the regulation of telecommunications.

Recent statutory amendments now allow the Commission to use its powers to gather information for a recognized overseas regulator, to provide information it has already gathered and assist a recognized overseas regulator in performing that regulator’s functions.

Currently the only international co-operation agreement in place is between the Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Integrated Australian and New Zealand patent applications on the way

The New Zealand government has approved the implementation of a single application process and single examination process for New Zealand and Australian patent applications.

It is hoped that these processes will enable the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand and IP Australia to share resources, reduce duplication and cut administrative costs to improve patent examination outcomes.

The single application and examination processes will be optional, with applicants still having the choice of filing separate patent applications in Australia and New Zealand.  Further, applicants that file under the single application process may choose to either enter the single examination process or have their Australian and New Zealand applications examined separately.

As some statutory amendments (in both New Zealand and Australia) are required to implement the processes, it is expected that the single application process will be available in early 2015, with a single examination pilot program to start at the same time.

COMPANIES

New Zealand Business Numbers introduced

All registered New Zealand companies have now been assigned a New Zealand Business Number, which is additional to the company number they are registered under. 

The NZBN number for a company is now available on that company’s details page on the Companies Office Register online.  You can now carry out searches in the Companies Office Register using either a company number or a NZBN number.

The development is the first step towards allocating a NZBN to all businesses in New Zealand, and creating a single searchable public register of businesses.  The intention is that in the future the use of a NZBN will enable businesses to update their details in one place, which will automatically update other registers.

Work is underway to identify how the NZBN can be allocated to other businesses, for example sole traders, partnerships and trusts.

FINANCIAL REPORTING

Changes to Financial Reporting Legislation

The Financial Reporting Act 2013 came into effect on 1 April 2014, together with other legislation which amends a number of statutes containing financial reporting obligations. 

Financial reporting obligations for:

  • FMC reporting entitiesare contained in the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013.  FMC reporting entities a include suppliers of regulated investment products, banks and insurers etc;
    • Companies which are not FMC reporting entities, will be included in the Companies Act 1993;
  • Other types of entities, such as charities, limited partnerships, partnerships and retirement villages, are included in legislation specific to those entities.

A New Zealand company will no longer need to prepare annual reports, which include financial statements, unless it is:

  • An FMC reporting entity;
    • A “large” company (not being a subsidiary of an overseas company), which has either total group assets over NZ$60million, or group revenue exceeding NZ$30million for each of the two preceding accounting periods;
    • A “large” company which is a subsidiary of an overseas company, which has total group assets of more than NZ$20million, or group revenue exceeding NZ$10million for each of the two preceding accounting periods;
    • A public entity;
    • Has 10 or more shareholders and has not opted out of compliance; or
    • Has fewer than 10 shareholders and has opted into compliance.

An overseas company which carries on business in New Zealand, will only be required to prepare general financial statements if it is:

  • An FMC reporting entity; or
  • A “large” entity (with total group assets of more than NZ$20million, or group revenue exceeding NZ$10million for each of the two preceding accounting periods).

Active companies will still be required to prepare financial reports to minimum requirements set by the Inland Revenue Department, which is developing a recommended accounting framework for special-purpose financial statements for SMEs.

If you have any questions on the matters discussed in this update please contact the New Zealand Mackrell Partner, Brian Joyce at Clendons North Shore by email to brian.joyce@clendons-ns.co.nz or phone +64 9 377 8419.

Disclaimer

This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek further information before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.