On 29 November 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to progress the reforms contained in the National Partnership Agreement to deliver a Seamless National Economy (SNENP). One of the 27 deregulation priorities involves reform to directors' liability for corporate fault.
The project aims to harmonise the imposition of personal criminal liability for corporate fault across Australian jurisdictions. This project came about because of growing concern over a trend in regulatory legislation across Australia to hold company officers criminally liable when their company breaches a statutory requirement (derivative liability).
On 14 August 2012, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, The Hon Bernie Ripoll MP, announced the release of the third tranche exposure draft of the Personal Liability for Corporate Fault Reform Bill 2012. This tranche covers amendments to the Commonwealth's tax legislation pursuant the COAG reforms. The third tranche follows on from the release of an exposure draft for the first tranche of proposed amendments on 27 January 2012 (for 9 weeks) and the second tranche on 1 June 2012 (for 4 weeks).
The first two tranches of proposed amendments applied COAG principles and guidelines to Commonwealth non-tax legislation for the purpose of determining whether or not the continued application of derivative liability was appropriate. The Government is now seeking comments on the draft legislation resulting from the application of these same principles and guidelines to the tax laws.