Change the registered office of your company!
As a result of recent High Court decision, it will no longer be possible for a company to use an address chosen for convenience (e.g. of its auditors) as its registered address. Company management should ensure that CIPC's records reflect the company's registered office as the address of its office. If there is more than one office, then the address of the principal office should be used.
A company can change its registered office by filing a notice of change of registered office with the CIPC. There is no filing fee payable.
The Western Cape High Court recently considered the issue of the 'residence' of a company under the new Companies Act (the '2008 Act') in the matter of Sibakhulu Construction (Pty) Ltd v Wedgewood Village Golf and Country Estate (Pty) Ltd.
The judgment highlights the changes introduced by the 2008 Act relating to a company's registered office as well as the impact of these changes on the court having jurisdiction over proceedings involving the company in certain circumstances.
Judge Binns-Ward found that under the 2008 Act:
- a company's registered address must be the address of its office;
- if the company has more than one office, its 'principal office' must be its registered office in accordance with section 23(3). The term 'principal office' is not defined in the 2008 Act. Looking at the 2008 Act's requirements as to what must be kept at its registered office (sections 24 and 28), the court concluded that the principal office should be the place where "the company's general administration is centered" in other words where the "administrative business of the company is principally conducted";
- the transitional provisions in Schedule 5 of the Act do not deal with a pre-existing company's registered office and accordingly section 23(3) applies equally to such companies (a 'pre-existing company' is a company that was incorporated before 1 May 2011 under the Companies Act 1973); and
- the place where the company's registered office is situated determines where a company resides and therefore which court has jurisdiction in proceedings affecting the status of a company, such as liquidation and business rescue proceedings. (Before the 2008 Act came into effect, it was possible for a company to reside at more than one place and one could elect to institute proceedings using, for example, either the place of its registered office or its principal office.)