New Zealand crippling digital nomads
Mike Wootton of GroLab – an online growth agency, is facing the removal of his company and potential loss of revenue simply for going on holiday. The Registries Integrity and Enforcement Team (RIET), part of the New Zealand Companies Office will commence the removal process on 15th March 2018 despite Mr Wootton pleading for common sense.
Mike Wootton has his registered office at his home address in Auckland where he conducts much of his business. With it being an internet-based business, he thought it was a fairly safe move to head down to spend more time with his family in Nelson while continuing to work.
While Mr Wootton was away, RIET conducted a random office verification inspection. They sent two officers to the registered address unannounced to inspect if it was being used as an office. As no one was home at the location, they left a letter in the letterbox requesting Mr Wootton to organise another suitable time for them to come back. With no reply to the letter due to Mr Wootton being in Nelson, RIET commenced with a process to remove his company from the Companies Register.
Mr Wootton was completely unware of the circumstances until he was notified by a third-party credit provider where he had applied for credit facilities for his customers. They informed him his company was being deregistered and it may affect their ability to fund him moving forward.
Distressed and embarrassed by the news, Mr Wootton immediately tried contacting RIET to explain the situation. ‘I figured they would at least listen to common sense, surely as a business owner you are allowed to go on holiday’ he said. ‘I pleaded for someone to call me and asked them why they simply didn’t email me, they have my email address listed on my company records’.
RIET however, refused to accept Mr Wootton’s plea by responding ‘We understand that you would like to have a discussion regarding [your email], however we prefer all correspondence to be in writing’. RIET also decided to continue with the removal process until MR Wootton can provide a range of company records and proof points, forcing Mr Wootton’s business to freeze in the meantime.
‘I couldn’t believe it! I’m facing potential loss of earnings worth thousands and they didn’t even email me or call me. If I hadn’t been trying to source credit options for my customers I would have never found out’ he went on to say.
According to Pieter Levels, founder of the Nomad List and Remote OK, the estimated global number of internet-based businesses and digital nomads who choose to escape the normal 9-5 are expected to be around 1billion by 2035.
MR Wootton’s case might highlight the archaic nature of New Zealand’s policies dealing with businesses in the modern age of the internet. Without updated procedures in dealing with internet-based freelancers and businesses, The New Zealand Companies Office may inadvertently force the closure of many New Zealand businesses.