Statement: Outcome of the Registrar of Personal Property Securities v Brookfield [2024] FCA 29 – January 2024

On 30 January 2024, the Federal Court of Australia handed down its judgment in the case of the Registrar of Personal Property Securities v Brookfield [2024] FCA 29.

Her Honour, Justice Sarah Derrington, found in favour of the Registrar of Personal Property Securities (the Registrar), and affirmed Mr Brookfield contravened section 151 (1) and section 151 (2) of the Personal Property Securities Act (PPSA) 2009 (Cth) relating to two false registrations on the PPSR.

The Court ordered that Mr Brookfield pay a pecuniary penalty of $30,000. This exceeded the $15,000 penalty sought by the Registrar.

This judgment reflects the significance of the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) as an important mechanism within the Australian credit system as well as the Registrar’s posture to respond to deliberate misuse and harm.

As the executive agency responsible for administering Australia’s personal property securities systems, the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has carefully reviewed the judgment and welcomes her Honour’s decision.

In his role as the Registrar, AFSA’s Chief Executive Tim Beresford commenced civil penalty proceedings against Mr Brookfield in May 2023 relating to two false registrations on the PPSR.

The Registrar deemed these proceedings necessary to maintain the integrity of the PPSR. AFSA will continue to ensure confidence in the personal property securities system to support a strong credit system for Australia.

The PPSR is a significant financial infrastructure for all Australians. False registrations adversely impact its accessibility and reliability. The Registrar will take action regarding any illegitimate registrations that inhibit Australian consumers and creditors from making timely and informed financial decisions.

This judgment serves as a deterrent to any person intentionally interfering with the PPSR’s integrity and accessibility through false registrations or who seeks to use the PPSR for otherwise inappropriate purposes.

As outlined in the judgment, legal costs will be determined by the Court at a later date. The Registrar recognises Mr Brookfield has the right to appeal.

The PPSR’s role in the Australian economy

The PPSR is an important database that is available for all Australians and is accessible worldwide. It allows individuals and businesses to register and search for security interests in personal property and provides critical confidence and surety for consumers buying or leasing personal property.

It is a critical piece of the credit system infrastructure that underpins Australia’s $3.5 trillion credit system. The register supports the flow of credit by enabling Australian creditors to safeguard their security interests and supports consumers and businesses to make informed commercial decisions. It is the only federated and fully digitised secured transactions register in the world.

More than 1.4 million businesses, representing 56% of all Australian businesses, and 2.1 million consumers access lines of credit and purchase goods through PPSR asset registrations.

The PPSR provides financial protection for businesses and consumers in a market where cost of living and supply chain constraints are driving transactions toward second-hand goods.

The PPSR holds registrations with an estimated economic value of $400 billion – approximately 20% of Australia’s GDP. Since its inception on 30 January 2012, more than 22 million registrations have been created and 87 million searches undertaken, demonstrating the register’s extensive use by consumers, businesses and financiers to manage financial risk.

For more information about the PPSR, please visit our Education Hub.

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