New regulations, scheduled to come into force by the end of summer 2018, will make it easier for directors and other individuals to remove their residential address information from the publicly searchable register at Companies House.
Since the Companies Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) came into force, company directors and secretaries have been able to file a service address at Companies House. This means that their usual residential address details do not have to be publicly visible. However, the 2006 Act did not provide for the removal of any usual residential address information that was already publicly visible.
Regulations introduced in 2009 to some extent addressed this issue. These allow individuals whose usual residential address appears on the public register in certain capacities (for example, in incorporation documents or on an annual return) to apply to Companies House to have that information removed from public view. However, the regulations only apply to information filed at Companies House on or after 1 January 2003. They also require an individual applicant to satisfy certain conditions. For example, the applicant must have been the employee of a "relevant organisation" (such as a police force or GCHQ) or must consider there to be a serious risk of violence or intimidation to them, or a person living with them, because of the activities of a company with which they have a connection.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has reported an increasing number of complaints from individuals. These individuals are concerned that, even though the continuing public disclosure of their residential address puts them at risk, for example from identity theft and fraud, they cannot have this information removed from public view. The proposed regulations address these concerns.
The key changes are that:
- an individual whose usual residential address is on the public register will be able to apply to Companies House to make that address unavailable to public view without having to satisfy any conditions;
- there will no longer be a 1 January 2003 cut-off, so this right will apply to information whenever filed; and
- where an applicant's current address needs to remain on the register (for example where the applicant is a current director), a service address will replace the residential address. Where this is not the case (for example where the applicant is a former director), Companies House will suppress all parts of the registered residential address except for the first half of the postcode or equivalent.
The new regulations will also make equivalent changes for limited liability partnerships and align the rules for Scottish partnerships.