In a world of increased transparency, and a push for more disclosure of personal information through public registries of beneficial ownership, it is interesting to note that the UK is now proposing to provide greater protection to individuals.
UK : Company Director’s Disclosure
The UK government has introduced new laws which, if approved, will come into force in the summer 2018 with the aim of protecting company director’s private address from public access.
The government’s move was prompted by evidence showing that directors are twice as likely to be victims of identity fraud as the general population, as their personal information is available to public inspection.
Under the proposed law, company directors will continue to be required to provide their business address, but will be permitted to remove their home address from the official register of companies maintained at Companies House. Directors will be able to replace their home address with an alternative address, for example a company address, where they can be contacted to ensure that the company is meeting its legal obligations.
It will remain the case that the director’s full details, including their personal address, will continue to be accessible to government authorities including the police, insolvency service and other governmental bodies.
The new law will be an improvement on the current law which permits the removal of a director’s personal address only if the director can establish to the satisfaction of the Registrar of Companies and other relevant authorities, that the disclosure of their personal address will expose them to a serious risk of violence or intimidation as a result of the company’s business.
It is intended that the law will strike a balance between maintaining transparency and ensuring the protection of directors from the risk of possible fraud, violence and intimidation.
The Minister for Business, Mr Andrew Griffiths is reported as stating at the announcement of the government’s proposal:
‘Through our Industrial Strategy we have set our blueprint for ensuring we build on our reputation as one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business.
These new laws will protect new and existing business owners from potential harm and identity fraud, while ensuring we maintain our high standards of corporate transparency.’
It is to be hoped that the same level of protection with respect to private personal data will be provided for other UK public registries and that other jurisdictions will follow suit.