BMW loses Ferrari after invalid PPSR Registration

A recent ruling in the Federal Court of Australia in Rohrt, in the matter of Rose Guerin and Partners Pty Ltd (in liq) v Princes Square W24NY Pty Ltd [2021] FCA 483, reminds us just how important correctly perfecting a security interest can be in the event of liquidation.


In June 2018, BMW Finance (BMW) entered into an arrangement with a company as trustee for a trust.

The arrangement was a chattel mortgage for a luxury vehicle. This mortgage was to be repaid monthly over a 5 year period. BMW registered this vehicle under the Personal Properties Securities Register (the PPSR), which protects registered interests in goods should a customer become insolvent and can give you priority among other creditors.

In November 2019, the Company was struggling to keep up with the repayments, therefore BMW agreed to vary the agreement to reduce the monthly repayment and extend the agreement by three months. However, on 19 December 2019, the Company was placed into administration and administrators were appointed with the Company subsequently going into liquidation.

On 11 February 2020, BMW received a notice of disclaimer of onerous property from the Liquidators which declared that they disclaimed the vehicle.

The amount owing on the vehicle was over $450 000 and according to the Liquidator’s affidavit, the finance associated with the vehicle was significantly in excess of its value. BMW was instructed by the Liquidators to liaise with the Company directly to repossess the Ferrari.

In May 2020, the Liquidators applied to the Court under section 530C of the Corporations Act to seize all property of the Company and a warrant was granted and the vehicle was seized by the Liquidators despite the Notice. When BMW’s solicitors queried why this occurred, the Liquidators stated that their actions were valid due to BMW’s ineffective PPSR registration.

Was BMW’s PPSR Registration defective?

Under section 164 of the Personal Properties and Securities Act (the PPSA), a security interest is ineffective if there is a seriously misleading defect in the registration and it is not necessary to prove that someone was mislead by it.

Even though the original chattel mortgage agreement with BMW provided that the Company purchased the vehicle as trustee for a trust, there was an issue with registration of the security, as the security was not registered under the ABN for the trust.

The Liquidators relied on the case of in the matter of OneSteel Manufacturing Pty Limited (administrators appointed) [2017] 93 NSWLR 61, where a financing statement should have been registered under the ACN, but the secured party used the ABN instead. This was found to be a defective registration under s 164 of the PPSA.

Was the Notice valid?

BMW by its own submissions conceded that their interest in the vehicle was defective and that they were unsecured creditors but BMW argued that the Liquidator’s notice of disclaimer affected their ability to seize the car.

The Court found that due to BMW’s unperfected security interest, when the Company went into administration, the vehicle automatically vested with the Company under section 267 of the PPSA, and this meant that the Company held the vehicle free from BMW’s security interest.

As the Notice was sent subsequent to the automatic vesting of the vehicle, the power of the liquidators to disclaim under section 568 of the Corporations Act was not enlivened because the Court disagreed with BMW’s submission that the vehicle was an onerous obligation due to its high value and lack of onerous obligations tied to the vehicle.

The Court therefore concluded that the Notice was null and void and this left BMW with a ‘personal claim’ against the Company but no proprietary interest in the vehicle.


This case serves as a timely reminder of the importance of correctly registering a security interest and always being prepared in the event of insolvency. Even large organisations like BMW are not immune from PPSR mishaps, which can be costly.


Deliveroo driver ruled to be an employee by the Fair Work Commission

Yesterday, the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision in the matter of Diego Franco v Deliveroo Australia Pty Ltd [2021] FWC 2818, that could have significant ramifications across the Australian gig economy landscape.

Currently, online food delivery giants like Deliveroo and UberEats rely on their drivers being independent contractors, so they can have flexible work arrangements and work for multiple delivery platforms. This therefore means they lack the general protections that employees are entitled to under the Fair Work Act such as unfair dismissal.

Mr Franco launched an unfair dismissal challenge after being dismissed with seven days’ notice for late deliveries. The first determination for the Fair Work Commission was whether he was an employee and therefore prima facie entitled to unfair dismissal protections. Secondly, if he was an employee, they had to determine whether his dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable under section 385 of the Fair Work Act.

Mr Franco submitted that the main factor contributing to him being an employee was that he was not running his own business, rather he was working for Deliveroo and obtaining renumeration from them directly rather than pursuing his own personal profit.

Other factors included the remuneration being non-negotiable, wearing Deliveroo clothing, and that Deliveroo exercised control over Mr Franco through the supplier agreement he signed.

While Deliveroo asserted it had no control over when or where Mr Franco worked which would point to an independent contractor relationship, this was not quite the reality when the working arrangements were examined closer.

Deliveroo utilised a SSB system that required riders to book sessions in advance and preference was given to riders with good performance metrics. This meant that Mr Franco was directed by the SSB system to work particular times, make himself readily available and not to cancel booked engagements. So while superficially it appeared there was an absence of control, Commissioner Cambridge noted that this was camouflaged into a significant capacity for control.

Mr Franco's submission that his termination was harsh, unjust or unreasonable was based on the fact that failing to deliver in a reasonable time was not a valid reason as Mr Franco had never been notified about expected delivery times for drivers.

Deliveroo submitted that Mr Franco was an independent contractor due to him not being required to perform services for the Deliveroo business personally, his ability to accept and refuse work, work whenever he wanted, being able to work for multiple entities at the same time, him signing a supplier contract, supplying his own delivery equipment and being paid on invoices.

However, Commissioner Cambridge said that with “consideration of all the relevant indicia, has, like the colours from the artist’s palette, emerged to form a complete picture… the relationship between Mr Franco and Deliveroo is that of employee and employer”.

Commissioner Cambridge emphasised the fact that Mr Franco was not carrying on a trade or business of his own, but rather working as part of Deliveroo and also took into account how much control Deliveroo exerted over Mr Franco with the SSB system.

When considering how Mr Franco could and did work for other competitors, Commissioner Cambridge contended that this must be assessed in the context of a modern, changing workplace impacted by a digital world and therefore will not always be a determining factor of an independent contractor relationship.

It was then found that there was no valid reason for Mr Franco’s dismissal relating to his capacity or conduct and the substantive reasons were not sound. He was therefore reinstated and will be awarded back pay for lost wages.

Shifting Attitudes

In previous gig work decisions, the Fair Work Commission has typically gone against the workers, finding that their working relationship is more indicative of a contractor relationship. An example from last year was Amita Gupta v Portier Pacific Pty Ltd; Uber Australia Pty Ltd t/a Uber Eats [2020] FWCFB 1698, where the full bench found that Gupta was an independent contractor by focusing on the flexibility of work arrangements and the ability to work for multiple corporations.

However, this is not always the case. A Foodora rider was awarded $15 000 in 2018 for unfair dismissal. In this decision, Commissioner Cambridge focused on the applicant being “integrated into the respondent’s business and not an independent operation”. You can read our article about this case from 2018 here.

This decision also comes after a recent UK Supreme Court decision of Uber BV v Aslam [2021] UKSC 5, where Uber’s appeal was dismissed and Aslam, an Uber driver, was determined to be a worker and entitled to the minimum standards under UK labour law.

The Courts did not determine whether Aslam was an employee however. As the UK labour law framework is quite distinct from the Australian framework the decisions cannot be directly followed, but as Commissioner Cambridge acknowledged in his reasoning, decisions like Aslam confirm the extent to which services on digital platforms are challenging traditional employment concepts.

In a statement to the media, Deliveroo said it planned to appeal the decision.

Morrison Government pursuing more insolvency reform

Ahead of next week’s federal budget, the Morrison Government has decided to pursue further measures to improve Australia’s insolvency framework for businesses.

Most notably, the threshold for which a creditor can issue a statutory demand on a company will increase from $2 000 to $4 000, this change is scheduled to take effect on 1 July 2021.

Other reforms being considered are:

  1. Changing how trusts are treated under insolvency law;
  2. a review of whether Safe-Harbour provisions, introduced in 2017, should remain; and
  3. introducing moratoriums on creditor enforcement while insolvency schemes are being negotiated

The changes being considered will build on the reforms which came into effect on 1 January of this year that streamlined the insolvency process and provided directors with greater control to restructure or wind down their operations. These changes were subject of a prior post which you can access here.

A copy of the Treasurer’s media release issued on 3 May 2021 can be accessed here.

With insolvency becoming an evolving space, professional legal advice is key for all businesses.