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Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership

Posted on 21 January 2022

EU Advocate General publishes opinion

Today, the EU's Advocate General published his opinion in a case referred by the Luxembourg District Court concerning the compatibility of public registers of beneficial ownership with individuals' fundamental rights to privacy and data protection (as reported here and here).

In his opinion (currently only available in French), the EU's Advocate General concluded that a public register containing the personal data of individuals who directly or indirectly own a substantial interest in private businesses genuinely meets public objectives and does not entail a disproportionate limitation of their right to privacy

Filippo Noseda, a partner at Mishcon de Reya who has been representing a number of clients in relation to beneficial ownership registers, as well as the automatic exchange of information, commented:

"This is a worrying development and is partly the result of a lack of debate of the data protection implications of BO-registers in the public arena. Had the EU suggested the introduction of central registers of DNA / fingerprints, or even a central scheme of identity cards, and suggested that this was necessary to fight crime, public opinion would have been up in arms. It is difficult to see how unrestrained public access to personal information in relation to private enterprises can be seen as a necessary step to fight money laundering.

Today's opinion is particularly disconcerting, as the author of today's opinion, a former head of the Italian anti-trust agency, ignored the opinion issued by the Italian State Council, which concluded as recently as 6 December 2021 that the indiscriminate access to personal information by the public violated was in breach of EU law. 

It is to be hoped that the European Court of Justice will depart from today's opinion."

 

Related links:

CJEU: opinion and press release (currently only in French)

Italian State Council's: opinion here

Mishcon: here and here

External: here and here

 

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