In light of an increasing number of complaints about people being put at risk of identity fraud because their home address is publicly available on the public register at Companies House, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published draft regulations, the Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. These amend the Companies (Disclosure of Address) Regulations 2009 (2009 Regulations) to remove restrictions on making information about individuals’ residential addresses unavailable to the public by the Registrar of Companies (Registrar).
Section 1088 Companies Act 2006 (CA 2006) allows the Secretary of State to make regulations to enable people to apply to the Registrar to make their residential address unavailable for public inspection.
The 2009 Regulations, made under section 1088, allow applications from individuals where there is a serious risk that they, or a person living with them, will be subject to violence or intimidation as a result of the activities of a company with which they are involved. Applications can only be made in respect of information that was filed with the Registrar on or after January 1, 2003.
The “serious risk of violence or intimidation” test in the 2009 Regulations only relates to the activities of the company. This does not cover the situation where a person may find themselves at serious risk of harm from, for example, their domestic situation or wider activities not associated with the company. In addition, the 2009 Regulations do not allow individuals who may be at risk from identity theft and fraud to have their residential address suppressed.
The draft regulations amend the 2009 Regulations to remove the requirement that individuals must show a serious risk of violence or intimidation arising from a company’s activities and to allow applications in respect of information filed before January 1, 2003. They capture further instances in which an individual’s address may have been placed on the register. They also allow a member of a company to make an application for suppression without having to show a serious risk of violence or intimidation.
The 2009 Regulations allow a company to apply for the suppression of residential address information of all its members. It should be noted that the “serious risk of violence or intimidation” test is being retained in relation to this due to the potential effect on corporate transparency of large scale redactions of historic information. The “serious risk of violence or intimidation” test is also being retained in respect of an application by a person who registers a charge.
In addition to amendments to the 2009 Regulations, the draft regulations make amendments to the Limited Liability Partnerships (Application of Companies Act 2006) Regulations 2009 and Scottish Partnerships (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2017.
The draft regulations are yet to be made and will come into force on the day after they are made. The BEIS press release states that they will come into force by the end of Summer 2018.
(BEIS, Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018, 22.02.18)
(BEIS, Explanatory memorandum, 22.02.18)