Irene Madongo
03 November 2014

As Registry Plan Advances, U.K. Suggests Tweaks to Protect Business Owners

Kate Higgins has been quoted in an article on Money about a BIS discussion paper which proposes an exemption to the proposed public register of corporate ownership, currently being debated in Parliament.  The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (SBEE Bill), will introduce a public register of people with significant control over a company (the PSC register) – for more information see our article: Business Bill introduces a brave new world for corporate disclosure and accountability.   The SBEE Bill allows for regulations to be made to allow protection of the particulars of a person with significant control in certain circumstances and it is these regulations which BIS is consulting on in the discussion paper which is available here.

The discussion paper reflects difficulty British officials face in striking the balance between sufficient transparency to protect the country from financial crooks and sufficient protections for owners of legitimate businesses, according to Kate Higgins, a legal director in the corporate department of Mishcon de Reya in London.

The proposed protections “appear to be very narrowly drawn,” she said, noting that an individual wanting his or her name removed for fear of kidnapping would have to prove that such a risk currently exists.

Secondary legislation might also protect business owners from animal right activists, “but again it looks as though the government is stopping short of proposing a wider exemption,” she said. “It would be concerned that by doing so the exemption would cut across the main aims of the bill in promoting transparency.”

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