New protection against identity fraud for company directors

February 27, 2018

Company directors are twice as likely as other members of the public to be victims of identity theft

In response to research published by Cifas in 2017 that company directors are twice as likely as other members of the public to be the victims of identity theft, with criminals using data in Companies House to target their victims, and to address concerns that such information is leaving company directors vulnerable to violence and intimidation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) published draft regulations, the Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 on 22 February 2018.

Under S.1088 of the Companies Act 2006, the Secretary of State may make provision by regulations requiring the registrar, on application, to make an address on the register unavailable for public inspection. The first set of regulations made under S.1088 was the Companies (Disclosure of Address) Regulations 2009 Pursuant to the 2009 Regulations:

  • An individual whose residential address has been placed on the register at Companies House under certain sections of the Companies Act on or after 1 January 2003 may make an application to the registrar to have his address made unavailable for public inspection. In order to make the application, the individual must be able to demonstrate 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 a company of which he is, or proposes to become a director or he is not a director but of which he has been at any time.
  • A company may make an application in respect of the addresses of all of its members or former members or subscribers to its memorandum of association which have been placed on the register on or after 1 January 2003. Again, the company when making the application must be able to demonstrate that, as a result of its activities, the availability to members of the public of the addresses creates a serious risk that its members or former members or subscribers, or persons who live at those addresses, will be subjected to violence or intimidation.
  • A person whose residential address has been placed on the register at Companies House as a result of him registering a charge on or after 1 January 2003. Again, the person must be able to demonstrate that there is a serious risk that he, or if applicable his employees, or persons who live with him or his employees, will be subjected to violence or intimidation as a result of the activities of the company which is, or was, subject to the charge.

 

The 2018 Regulations amend the 2009 Regulations such that:

  • Applications referred to in the three instances above may be made in respect of information filed before 1 January 2003.
  • In relation to Individual Applications, individuals no longer need to establish that there is a serious risk of violence or intimidation as a result of the company’s activities. Thus, an individual will now be able to make an application where they consider themselves to be at risk from identity theft and fraud. The serious risk of violence or intimidation hurdle will still however apply to company applications or applications made by persons who have registered a charge.
  • The 2018 Regulations extends the applicability of the 2009 Regulations to further instances in which an individual’s address may have been placed on the register.

 

The 2018 Regulations also make consequential amendments to the Limited Liability Partnerships (Application of Companies Act 2006) Regulations 2009, among other things.

The 2018 Regulations provide that they will come into force on the day after the day on which they are made. The government has stated that this will be by the end of summer 2018. Under draft regulation 8 (Transitional provision), a section 1088 application received by the registrar before that day must be dealt with in accordance with the 2009 Regulations as they applied before the 2018 Regulations came into force.

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