Update: The new regime came into effect on 26 April 2018 when The Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 came into force.
New regulations are being introduced to make it easier for directors to suppress their home address on Companies House records.
At the moment, directors whose home address appears on Companies House's public records can apply for the address to be suppressed.
But they have to show a serious risk of violence or intimidation as a result of their company's activities.
Even if they can do that, it's not possible to get the home address removed from any forms filed before 1 January 2003.
The new regulations will remove these restrictions.
According to the government announcement, the aim is to reduce identity theft and fraud from which directors are twice as likely to suffer as most people.
The new regime is expected to be in effect by the end of summer 2018.
If an individual became a director before 1 October 2009, there are likely to be documents filed with Companies House that:
- contain their home address; and
- are publicly available to search online and download for free.
The UK government has received an increasing number of complaints from individuals about the current regime for suppressing the home address in these situations. For example:
- The "serious risk of violence or intimidation" test 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.
- Individuals who may be at risk from identity theft and fraud cannot apply to have their home address suppressed.
What is changing?
The two key changes are:
- individual directors will be able to apply to get their home address removed without having to show risk of violence or intimidation; and
- the 1 January 2003 restriction will be removed.
Someone who is required to maintain a current address in the register (such as a current director of a live company) will have to provide a service address.
A person who is not subject to this requirement (e.g. a former director of a live company) will not need to provide a service address. Instead, their home address will be partially suppressed to show the first half of the postcode.
What will the application to suppress have to contain?
Amongst other things, applicants will need to give details of:
- all the companies whose records they are wanting to be redacted; and
- each document to be redacted (name of document, form number/title (if applicable) and the registration date of that document).
Impact for directors
These changes will be of interest to all directors who might be concerned at the availability of their home address on the public record but do not meet the current criteria for removal.
Directors will be pleased to note the removal of the 1 January 2003 restriction if they have already successfully applied for suppression of their home address - but there are other records of their address, filed before 1 January 2003.
An application under the new regime should only be made once it is in force. This is because any application made before that date will be dealt with under the current regime.
But if individuals want to apply under the new regime, especially if they have held multiple directorships, a lot of the legwork can be done in advance so that the application is ready to be submitted promptly once the new regime is in force.
Brodies is experienced in supporting directors and their companies with this type of application. Please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact if you need more information.
This post was originally published in March 2018. It was updated in May 2018 to reflect the fact that the new regulations have come into force.