Jirsch Sutherland appointed as an approved Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) contractor

Jirsch Sutherland is proud to have been accepted as an approved contractor for the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC).

ORIC works with indigenous corporations in communities right across Australia providing advice, training and support where needed. The Registrar is also able to appoint a special administrator to take control of an indigenous corporation in certain circumstances, to assist with restructuring and ensure its corporate governance is robust, before returning the corporation back to its members. It is quite different to a receivership or voluntary administration under the Corporations Act 2001, which are usually driven by the interests of creditors.

“We’re thrilled to be accepted as an approved ORIC contractor and to be able to provide real value and support when needed to indigenous corporations across Australia,” says Henry McKenna, Jirsch Sutherland Partner.

“Although ORIC has a national remit, the Registrar regularly makes remote appointments in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. We’re hopeful being a contractor will provide opportunities for every Jirsch Sutherland office and for Partners and staff to travel to remote communities and provide the very best advice and guidance in these locations to help get struggling corporations back on track. While they may not be insolvent, they might be dysfunctional and need guidance and early regulatory assistance to help remediate them. And that’s what our role will be.”

Jirsch Sutherland has been approved by ORIC to potentially handle matters in every state and territory. “Because of our presence across regional and metropolitan Australia, we have the resources to provide on-the-ground assistance, which is backed up by support staff in our network of offices,” says Henry.

Indigenous expertise

Following an expression of interest submission presented in May, Jirsch Sutherland has been successfully vetted and approved as an ORIC contractor effective immediately. At a briefing in Canberra earlier this month, Henry McKenna now has a better understanding of how to position Jirsch Sutherland services when appointment opportunities arise.

Henry
Henry McKenna

“It was very helpful to meet with members of ORIC’s Regulation Team to get a good, detailed understanding of what ORIC wants from its contractors,” says Henry. “I was particularly impressed by

the dedication of the people I met and the degree to which indigenous communities matter to them. We look forward to helping make a real difference when indigenous corporations need assistance.”

In addition to Jirsch Sutherland’s national reach, Jirsch Sutherland Partners Chris Baskerville, Stewart Free, Malcolm Howell and Phil McGibbon have already had extensive experience working with indigenous business communities and corporations around Australia. These include:

• Voluntary Administration and subsequent Liquidation of the Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Service Inc. (2013), NSW
• Administration of the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council at Picton, NSW
• Administration of the Koompahtoo Local Aboriginal Land Council at Morriset, NSW
• Administration and subsequent Deed of Company Arrangement of the KASH Aboriginal Corporation at Mount Isa, QLD
• Court appointed Receivers & Managers of the Framlingham Aboriginal Trust, VIC
• Official Liquidation of Kerrup Jmara Elders Aboriginal Corporation, VIC
• Voluntary Administration and subsequent Liquidation of Kimberley Diamond Company, which involved working with the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal people in WA

For more information on ORIC go to http://www.oric.gov.au/.

Only the ORIC Registrar may place an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation under special administration. The Registrar does not need to apply to a court. The grounds for placing a corporation under special administration are broad. They are not restricted to insolvency or the inability to pay a debt. They allow early intervention once certain risk factors are present and may avoid later corporate collapse. For example, a common risk factor is when a dispute between members and the board has escalated to the point of interfering with the operations of the corporation. This would be one reason for placing a corporation under special administration and is an important special measure.