Practical Tips on Searching the PPSA Register
In my experience, the key to optimising PPSA search results is to remember security interests can be registered against different details, depending on the capacity of the grantor, the nature of the security provided and the information used to register the security interest.
Therefore, you need to undertake a number of searches to maximise your chances of getting all available information on the property or entity you are searching. If multiple searches are not made, the search results may be incomplete.
Here are some tips to help you achieve the best PPSA search results:
- Company – Search by name, ACN, ABN and ARBN. It’s also worth checking whether there has been a change of name and if so, searching the previous name as well.
- Partnership – Search under each partner’s name, the partnership name and the ABN. Again, it’s worth checking whether there has been a change of name of any partner or the partnership.
- Trust – Search under the name of the trust and the ARSN, ARBN and ABN if it has one (and remember that these might change).
- Natural person – You need a full name and date of birth. Consider sourcing these from a driver’s licence or passport. If the individual is carrying on business, you should also search under the ARBN and where a company or natural person is a trustee of a trust, or a partner is a trustee of a trust, then separate searches may be required in relation to those.
- Serial numbered property – Certain types of property (for example motor vehicles, watercraft and some intangible property such as designs, patents, plant breeder’s rights, trade marks, or licences) are described by serial number and you can search under this.
Other things to remember when searching the PPSR include:
- The PPSA is not evidence of title to personal property.
- The PPSR does not cover all security interests (e.g. some liens).
- Some security interests may not show up due to transitional provisions (e.g. some ROT or PPS Leases). The benefit of the transitional provisions will expire in January 2014.
- Some charges were not migrated to the PPSR from the ASIC register, so you need to search at ASIC also. There were issues with the information migrated to the PPSR from other migrated registers so further enquiries may be needed.
- Just because an interest is not registered, don’t assume that it’s not possible for another person to get priority (e.g. by control or by possession).
- A security interest may have the benefit of temporary perfection (in some cases for up to 2 years).
- The timing and method of perfection can change priority, as can special priority rules and accession / transformation / commingling of property.
- A security interest may get priority because it is a PMSI (purchase money security interest).
- It’s possible for parties to alter ‘default’ priority rules and they are not required to give notice of changes.
- A security interest may relate to both consumer and non-consumer property so searches may need to be conducted for both types of property.
- The description of the property in the security interest may not be accurate and this may result in the registration being ineffective.
- A lot of interests are being registered that may not actually be a ‘security interest’ for the purposes of the PPSA.
- A registered security interest may be ineffective because of a mistake (e.g. the serial number is wrong) or because it is seriously misleading.
In summary, a search of the PPSR will not necessarily disclose all security interests and it may be necessary to undertake additional steps to protect your position.