In an effort to tackle identity fraud against company directors, new regulations came into force on 26 April 2018 to make it easier for company directors and secretaries to remove their residential address from public inspection at Companies House.
Previously, residential addresses could be removed from the public register at Companies House only if there was a serious risk that the applicant, or a person living with them, would be subject to violence or intimidation as a result of the activities of the company with which they were involved. Applications could only be made in respect of information that was filed with the Registrar on or after 1 January 2003.
The new regulations remove the serious risk of violence or intimidation test and allow applications in respect of information filed before 1 January 2003, meaning that an individual can apply to keep private their residential address irrespective of grounds or when the information was filed.
Under the current law, which came into force on 1 October 2009, a service address may be filed and a directors residential address need only be kept on a private part of the register accessible only to certain authorities and credit reference agencies. As a result, the new regulations will be particularly relevant for directors registered before the current law came into effect under the Companies Act 2006. The new regulations will also make it far easier for a director whose residential address has been filed publicly since, whether in error or because of failure to supply a service address.
The changes to legislation governing protection of directors' personal addresses comes in the context of the ongoing implementation by the Government of various corporate transparency measures (see our Transparency Update May 2018). The Government has made the point however that the new regulations, which are contained in the Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018, still ensure transparency as public authorities including the police and the insolvency service will continue to have access to directors' personal addresses.