Since 1 May, the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) ceased to exist and was replaced by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). The New Companies Act came into being at the same time, changing the way business owners register their companies.
The Act stipulates that no new close corporations (CC) can be registered, but those registered prior to 1 May can continue to operate as CCs.
Registering your company
The Companies Act provides for two categories of companies, namely non-profit and profit companies. Each of the different entities under these categories has specific requirements in terms of the documentation that is required.
1. Types of entities
A company incorporated for public benefit or another object relating to one or more cultural or social activities, or communal or group interests. The income and property are not distributable to its incorporators, members, directors, officers or persons related to any of them.
Profit companies are categorised as companies without restrictions on the transferability of their shares and that do not prohibit offers to the public (larger public companies), and companies that do contain restrictions on the transferability of their shares and that prohibit offers to the public (smaller private companies). They may take one of four different forms: a personal liability company, a state-owned company, a public company and a private company.
Personal liability companies
The directors and past directors are jointly liable with the company for any debts and liabilities arising during their periods in office. The company name ends with the word ‘incorporated’.
This is a company defined as a ‘state-owned enterprise’ or a company owned by a municipality. The names of a state-owned company must end with the expression ‘SOE Ltd’
The definition of a public company is largely unchanged. The only difference is that a public company now only requires one member for incorporation compared to seven members in the past.
While comparable to private companies under the old Act, these are similar to previous close corporations. Some of the changes made to private companies include fewer disclosure and transparency requirements, no longer being limited to 50 shareholders, and a board that must comprise at least one director. The name of a private company must end with the expression ‘Proprietary Limited’ or ‘(Pty) Ltd’.
A company is incorporated by the lodging of a Notice of Incorporation (CoR 14.1) and Memorandum of Incorporation (CoR 15.1 A-E). These forms are available for download from the CIPC’s website.
Memorandum of Incorporation
The Memorandum of Incorporation (MoI) contains the following information:
- Details of incorporators
- Number of directors or alternate directors
- Share capital (maximum issued)
Notice of Incorporation
The Notice of Incorporation, which is lodged with the MoI, contains the following information:
- Type of company
- Incorporation date
- Financial year-end
- Registered address (main office)
- Number of directors
- Company name
– Whether the company name will be the registration number
– The reserved name and reservation number
– List of four names to be checked by the Commission
To register a private company you will complete either a CoR 15.1A (for a standard private company) or a CoR 15.1B (for a customised private company) and a CoR 14.1. The supporting documents required include:
- Certified ID copies of all indicated initial directors and incorporators
- Certified ID copy of applicant if not the same as one of the indicated initial directors or incorporators
- If an incorporator is a juristic person, a power of attorney is required for the representative authorised to incorporate the company and sign all related documents
- If another person incorporates the company and signs all related documents on behalf of any of the incorporators and initial directors, a power of attorney and certified ID copy of the person is required
- If a name was reserved before filing of incorporation documents, a valid name reservation document is necessary
The basic filing fee is R175. According to Elsabie Conradie, head: communication, marketing & stakeholder relations for CIPC, a private company can be registered within one day if the company registers without reserving a name first.
3. Register online
The CIPC’s website allows business owners to register their companies online. Once you are registered as a CIPC customer you will be able to access the transactional website. After you have logged in, look for the ‘New Companies’ link under the ‘Companies’ tab.
4. Naming your company
Under the new Act, name reservation is no longer mandatory before registering a company. If a proposed name is rejected the company may still be registered and the registration number then becomes the name of the company at incorporation until an appropriate name has been reserved. Furthermore, symbols are allowed in company names and all languages are accepted.
To register a company name, you need to complete a CoR 9.1 form. The fee for a manual application is R75 for each name, while electronic is R50. You should indicate up to four alternatives to be considered for reservation in the listed order while only one will be registered. You are also required to indicate whether any word, number or other element constitutes a registered trademark, and provide supporting documents for an associated name. The applicant of a name reservation must be the applicant on the new company registration documents, and will need to include a certified copy of their ID.
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When it comes to the New Companies Act you better start getting used to the words responsibility and accountability. Here’s why
Can Your Words Be Used Against You?
Yes, they most certainly can. Here’s what the RICA Act has to say about recordings.
“This call may be recorded for quality control and records purposes…” Anyone who has been on hold with insurance companies would be familiar with these words — but what are the implications of a recorded conversation and when is it legal?
In essence, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act of 2002 (mercifully shortened to ‘RICA’) permits any person, who is a party to a conversation to record that conversation, provided that it is direct communication — which is defined as oral communication between two or more persons that occurs in the immediate presence of those persons.
Section 4 of the RICA Act governs this aspect of our monitoring law. What is unclear, however, is the degree to which this extends to legal persons, such as a company that monitors a call centre agent’s performance, for example.
Related: Understanding Shareholder Agreements
Evidence in legal cases
While limited to direct communications and not covered by third party interception, such as an eavesdropper, the lesson here remains pretty stark — you could legally be recorded during any conversation you have.
The implications of this are significant — just ask former Springbok player Luke Watson, who had a conversation recorded during a function in 2008 that was subsequently leaked to the media.
Furthermore, with the widespread use of smartphones, together with applications freely available on the relevant app stores, designed to record cellphone calls, the likelihood of you being recorded — whether you know it or not, is ever increasing.
Beyond the moral or ethical ambiguity of this, the legal ramifications of what is recorded are more certain — the recording may be used against you as evidence in any criminal proceedings, or equally as possible, in civil proceedings where, for example, agreement to a contract or term thereof is in question, or in the insurance company’s case, whether or not to repudiate a claim based on the information you provide to them.
Related: Protect Your SME From PoPI
Know the business exception
Section 6 of the RICA Act contains a course of business exception that allows the interception of indirect communication:
- a) By means of which a transaction is entered into in the ordinary course of business
- b) Which relates to that business
- c) Which otherwise takes place in the course of that business.
While there has not, to my knowledge, been a reported case that deals with this aspect of the RICA Act, the implications regarding the use of this information to evidence the valid conclusion of a contract or as to the intentions of the parties to a contract are significant, particularly given that the scope is relatively broad, although limited.
The matter has, however, come before the Constitutional Court in the 1999 criminal case of S v Kidson, where the court held, per Justice Cameron, that unless a “reasonable expectation of privacy exists” it would be difficult to prevent the recording or interception falling within the ambit of the RICA Act.
Where to from here?
From both a commercial and criminal perspective, this should serve to remind us all of our wise grandmother’s words — if you have nothing nice to say, rather say nothing at all (especially because you never know whether you are being recorded).
Why You Shouldn’t Be Sweating The Fine Print
Signing a contract is a big deal, and you never want to sign anything you don’t fully understand.
While it is almost always a grudge purchase, ensuring that you have had a legal eye cast over a contract you intend to conclude means that you are protected, that you understand the nature of the obligations you are taking on and perhaps, an even better deal for you.
Given that legal agreements are an important aspect of commerce, we have distilled key points for you to consider, before engaging with external counsel. This will make the process more efficient and, hopefully, less expensive.
Reviewing a contract is a tricky business, not entirely different from asking a builder to finish building a half built house. However, there are some useful techniques to ensure you get the most out of the exchange with your lawyer.
Always create a timeline
You have lived and breathed your business and this transaction, while your attorney is possibly hearing about the matter for the first time.
Setting the scene correctly puts your attorney in the picture and explains what you want out of the exchange. Print this out for your attorney.
It will help an attorney identify key areas of risk which you might not have anticipated. Be sure to also tell your external counsel how quickly you need the review to be done. Setting expectations means there is less chance of disappointment later.
Provide supporting documents
It wastes your time and money when your attorney has to come back to ask you for supporting documentation.
Try to anticipate which documents will be relevant to your transaction and bring copies of them to the meeting for your attorney to consider. If you have previous versions of the agreement, for example, bring those too.
Remember, the more background work you do, the simpler and more efficient the process will be.
Understand your needs
Are you looking for a high level overview of your document to highlight some key contractual risks or are you looking for a thoroughly sanitised document reviewed from every possible angle?
I recently had to look over Jim’s Sale of Business Agreement for the potential acquisition of his Technology Company. He came to me with limited areas of risk which he had identified and wanted me to look at these clauses.
I was able to advise him to push back on certain clauses he had already negotiated and the resulting document placed him in a stronger legal and financial position. It was easy to justify the costs associated with the review.
This is not always necessary though — where there is limited legal exposure, or you have no bargaining power, the role of the attorney can be restricted, but still worth the investment since you have assurance that your legal exposure is as restricted as possible.
Be guided by the relative value of the document and the ensuing legal responsibilities — is this a standard supply agreement with a strange payment clause or a multi-national acquisition of intellectual property? The type of expert you engage with will vary, as will the cost of the review.
Areas of concern
Directly related to knowing your business and understanding your needs, is your responsibility to communicate specific areas of concern to your attorney.
A recent client’s business processed a lot of personal information, in accordance with the Protection of Personal Information Act, but, the contractor they were about to sign a service supply agreement sought to have access to some of this personal information.
Seen alone, there was little risk, but within the context of this business, we were able to avoid this. A trusted and qualified expert will help you navigate the complex commercial world.
Are You Protecting Your Customer’s Data?
The collection, usage and sharing of personal information is regulated primarily by the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013. The Act was recently promulgated and is yet to be implemented. The Act seeks to give expression to the right to privacy provided for in the Constitution.
At the time of writing, the primary enforcement arm contemplated by the Act, the Information Regulator, has yet to be appointed. Once appointed, all businesses will be required to register with the Information Regulator to make public what personal information is being collected, and what it is being used for.
The Information Regulator will be empowered to enforce compliance with the Act, and able to investigate whether an entity is lawfully processing the public’s personal information.
Related: Protect Your SME From PoPI
How are privacy policies affected?
The Act defines the term ‘processing’ broadly, and includes “the collection, receipt, recording, organisation, collation, storage, updating or modification, retrieval, alteration, consultation or use of a person’s personal information”. To process a person’s personal information, the prior consent of the person (data subject) is needed.
The Act restricts a company’s ability to store personal information outside of the country by requiring that it be transferred only to countries in which comparable security laws and data protection measures exist.
A situation such as this arises more easily than expected. Consider the example of the humble contact form: Your website, with its local server situated in Midrand, utilises a plugin to create custom contact forms.
Although your server may be in Midrand, every person who completes the contact form on your website has their personal information transferred and stored on servers in the home jurisdiction of your plugin creator, which may be in the US. But the plugin creator may also make use of third-party service providers based in Vietnam. An in-depth investigation of all third-party plugins and processes of a website is therefore required to ensure that you comply with the Act.
Access by a data subject to personal information
A data subject is entitled to request a full disclosure of any personal information held by the company.
As the procedures governing access to personal information overlap, companies should also ensure compliance with the processes outlined by the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (‘PAIA’).
In terms of PAIA, all companies are required to compile a manual that needs to be registered with the South African Human Rights Commission. This manual sets out the company’s contact information, what records are available for inspection, the identity of the leadership of the company, as well as the manner in which a person may request access to information held by the company.
However, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has exempted private bodies from complying with this requirement for a period of five years, starting from
1 January 2016.
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