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Limited Company directors’ addresses will soon be protected

13 August, 2009

The names and residential addresses of directors of registered Limited Companies in England & Wales are presently publicly available and can be obtained for as little as £1, simply by completing an on-line form.

Public availability of this sort of private information can be misused and while the Companies Act 1985 does enable directors to apply for a confidentiality order, the burden and the legal expense has fallen on the individual to show that disclosing their address could be a serious risk that either themselves or a family member could be subjected to violence or intimidation. 

However this is changing and on 1st October 2009 this will be reversed and there will be no need for anyone to apply for a confidentiality order. Provisions of the Companies Act 2006 are to be brought into effect and designated directors’ residential addresses will be marked as “protected information” and neither the director’s company nor Companies House will be allowed to make them public (subject to certain exceptions). 

A register of directors will still be required but this will only be required to record an address for service for each director, and this can be the company’s registered address. Companies House will require this information and it will be available to the public.

Limited Companies will also be required to keep a separate register of directors’ residential addresses, and it will be considered an offence for a Limited Company to disclose the residential address of any its director unless the director consents or is required to do so by Companies House or a court order. Companies will need to put the necessary procedures into place and avoid inadvertent and unlawful disclosures.

A director’s residential address will still be available at Companies House to designated public authorities and credit reference agencies. In the event of communications from Companies House to a director going unanswered,  then the court can permit Companies House to put the director’s residential address onto the public register.  Directors will need to be vigilant to ensure that they do not lose “protected information” status in this way. 

This new rule has a fairly serious downside, although it will over time erode. It is not retrospective and any information that is presently recorded at Companies House on a company’s register of directors prior to 1 October 2009 will remain open to public inspection.

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