Protection of residential addresses at Companies HousePrint publication
Historically, a director’s residential address was available for all to see on the public records at Companies House. However, under the Companies Act 2006 (the Act) a new concept was introduced of a director’s service address. Both the service address and the director’s residential address must be notified to Companies House, but a director’s residential address is protected information under the Act and not disclosed. In contrast, a director’s service address is disclosed on the public register.
Directors commonly use the company’s registered address as their service address, but they could use their own residential address if they wanted and had no objection to that address being placed on the public register.
Although we now have a system whereby residential addresses are not necessarily made public, Companies House is not obliged to remove reference to a director’s residential address where it has previously been disclosed on the public register. Instead if an individual, whose usual residential address was entered on the register after 1 October 2003, wants to remove the entry they may, in certain circumstances, make an application to Companies House to make that address unavailable for public inspection.
The grounds on which an application may be made are:
- that the applicant considers that there is a serious risk that he, or a person who lives with him, will be subjected to violence or intimidation as a result of the activities of at least one of the companies of which he is, was or proposes to become a director or a company of which he has at any time been a secretary or permanent representative;
- that the applicant is or has been employed by a ‘relevant organisation’ (being the Government Communications Headquarters, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Security Service or a police force); or
- that the applicant has successfully made a ‘section 243 application’ that stops Companies House from disclosing protected information to a credit reference agency.
However this is all about to change. On 22 February 2018 the draft Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and an accompanying explanatory memorandum were published.
The draft regulations make the following changes to the current legislation:
- an individual whose usual residential address is on the register may apply under section 1088 of the Act to the registrar to make that address unavailable for public inspection on the companies register, without having to make the application on any specified grounds;
- the removal of the restriction preventing individuals from applying under the Act where a usual residential address was placed on the register before 1 January 2003;
- the removal of the restriction preventing an application by a company to remove usual residential address information of its members and former members in respect of addresses placed on the register before 1 January 2003; and
- where there remains a requirement for an applicant’s current address to remain on the register, the usual residential address will be replaced with a service address. Where there is no such requirement, the registrar will suppress all elements of the address except for the first half of the postcode or, where there is no such postcode in the address, information denoting an equivalent or larger geographical area (or, for non-UK addresses, the country or territory and the next principal unit of geographical subdivision).
The government has stated that the draft regulations will come into force by the end of summer 2018.
We will provide an update when the implementation date of the regulations is announced. Since it may only be a couple of months away, if you would like to discuss any aspect of the regulations, please do not hesitate to contact the Richard Naish.