What is a motor vehicle?
The PPS Act definition has just changed – do you understand its impact?

The Personal Property Securities Amendment (Motor Vehicles) Regulation 2014 (Cth) was registered on 1 April 2014.  It will commence on 1 July 2014.  The new Regulation narrows the definition of motor vehicle for the purposes of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth) (PPSA).

The new Regulation has a grand total of only 4 pages, which includes the cover page and the contents page.  The operative provisions consist of merely a few lines on the last page, which repeals paragraph 1.7(2)(b) of the current Regulation and substitutes the existing wording with this wording “(b) is capable of a speed of at least 10 km/h; and (ba) has one or more motors that have a total power greater than 200W” (emphasis added).

So what does this mean?  The current definition of motor vehicle provides that a motor vehicle is personal property built to be propelled wholly on land, by a motor that forms part of the property, and that either is capable of a speed of at least 10km/h, or has one or more motors that have a total power greater than 200W.  The amended definition will provide that personal property must have both of these characteristics to qualify as a motor vehicle.

And what impact will this have?  The Explanatory Statement (ES) to the new Regulation explains the impact in one succinct statement – “The narrowing of the definition reduces the number of goods that will be motor vehicles, which in turn will reduce the number of security interests which may require the making of separate registrations against the serial number of the goods involved rather than only a registration against the party granting the security interest.”

The ES also explains that the objective here is to “reduce the costs of complying with the PPS Act for small and medium equipment hire businesses whilst still maintaining the utility of the Register as a record of interests in personal property for third parties”.

Both the Regulation and the ES can be accessed here.

It is fair to say this is probably the first of a series of changes about to take place.  The PPS Act is now over 2 years old.  Last week, on 4 April 2014, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, said it is timely to review the PPS Act’s effect to ensure it is meeting its objective of providing greater certainty to lenders and helping business, especially small business, to access finance.  The Government is undertaking a review into the PPS Act, and an interim report is due on 31 July 2014.  The interim report will focus on issues raised in relation to small businesses.  The final report is due on 30 January 2015.  Time will tell whether and how the review and the recommendations that follow will change Australia’s personal property securities regime.