It is often the case that an error is made in the ACN, ABN or even name of a party, or in the serial number of collateral, when registering on the PPSR. The online nature of the registration process lends itself to typos or transcription errors.
The Supreme Court of NSW has found that a defect in the ACN of the secured party in a financing statement registered on the PPSR does not render the registration ineffective.
Section 153 of the Personal Property Securities Act 2010 (“PPSA”) requires that a financing statement include certain details of the secured party. If the secured party is a Body Corporate, the ACN must be entered – see item 2 in the table under para 1.3(4) in schedule 1 of the PPSR regulations.
In Future Revelations, the secured party’s ABN number was entered instead of its ACN number.
The PPSA codifies which defect in the register make the associated registration is ineffective. It is important in practice to be aware of them:
- Section 164 provides that a defect in the register will render the relevant security interest ineffective if it is “seriously misleading”, excepting defects prescribed in the regulations, or it if is defect mentioned in section 165.
- The defects in section 165 are:
- defects preventing disclosure of the registration by searching the serial number of the collateral where that detail is required for registration. An example would be omission of the serial number or an error in it;
- where the serial number is not required, where a search by reference to the grantor’s details is not capable of disclosing the registration. An example might be an error in the name of the grantor, such as recording the name of a partnership as that of an individual partner, rather than that of the partnership;
- where the registration is said to be in respect of a PMSI, but in fact is not;
- otherwise as specified in the regulations.
- At present no regulations have been made under sections 164 or 165.
What makes a registration defect “seriously misleading”? Since the PPSR is a register designed to enable the public to identify security interests in collateral, or security interests given by a grantor, errors are seriously misleading if they hinder or prevent a search turning up security interests by reference to the identifying details of the collateral or grantor.
In Future Revelations, Brereton J said at  to :
- The suggested defect in this case is not one of a kind mentioned in s 165. The question then is whether it is “seriously misleading”. That term is not defined in the PPSA, nor is there any guidance in respect of its meaning in the explanatory memorandum or the second reading speech. However, as is well-known, the PPSA is modelled on and derived from similar legislation in Canada and New Zealand and, as was observed in Maiden Civil (P&E) Pty Ltd v Queensland Excavation Services Pty Ltd  NSWSC 852, the Commonwealth Parliament in enacting legislation that was modelled on the New Zealand and Canadian legislation should be taken to have intended approaches and interpretations applied by the Courts of those countries to their legislation to apply in Australia. A similar view has been taken in New Zealand.
- Canadian case law suggests that the test for whether a defect is “seriously misleading” is whether it will result in the registration not being disclosed on a search [see Re Lambert (1994) 7 PPSAC (2d); GMAC Leaseco Ltd v Moncton Motor Home & Sales (2003) 227 DLR (4th) 154 at ]. That makes sense, as the purpose of registration is to enable the existence of the security interest in the collateral to be searched and ascertained. A person searching in the PPSR is likely to be concerned with the identity of the grantor and/or the collateral. In terms of searching the PPSR, while there is facility to search by reference to the identity of the grantor and the collateral, there is no facility to search by reference to the identity of the secured party.
- In the present case, a search by reference to the identity of the collateral or the grantor would have disclosed the relevant security interest. Such a search would have identified clearly enough the secured party, namely Suncorp, even though its ABN and not ACN was stated. In my view, it is very clear that this defect was not seriously misleading or indeed for that matter misleading at all. Accordingly, it seems to me by operation of s 164(1) that the registration is not ineffective by reason of the defect that has been identified.
So errors in the details of the secured party will be not be fatal, provided the details in the registration in respect of the serial number of the collateral, or the grantor, as the case may be, is correct.
However, an error in the ACN or name of a grantor, where the serial number of the collateral was not required, may well be fatal – see for example a case where the name of the grantor was recorded as “Grandstand” rather than “Granstrand”.
Practitioners need to be careful in checking transcription of the identifying details of the grantor and the collateral (particularly the serial number) when entering details on the PPSR website.
It is also worth noting that the application in Future Revelations was made urgently and ex parte, without formally filing process. The application was urgent since the borrower had just defaulted. Leave was granted to file process in Court, and an order was made giving liberty to apply to any administrator, liquidator or unsecured creditor to claim their interests could be affected by the order of the Court.