UK government removes restrictions on the suppression of residential address information at Companies House in light of data privacy concerns

Written on 15 Jun 2018

Speed read

Successive legal changes have gradually increased the ability of individuals to prevent residential address information from being publicly available at the UK companies registry, Companies House.  However, since Companies House records became free to access in June 2015, the UK government has received an increasing number of complaints that the continued availability of historic residential addresses has contributed to identity theft and instances of personal harassment.

The UK government has therefore introduced new rules to make it easier for individuals to apply for the suppression of historic residential address information on the public register  – it is no longer necessary to demonstrate a serious risk of violence or intimidation in order to do so.  At the same time, it has revoked rules preventing the removal of pre-2003 data still available at Companies House.

Background: the changing requirements for the disclosure of residential addresses of officers/directors and persons with significant control

The historic requirements for address disclosure and the suppression of that information can be summarised below.

Default public disclosure Availability of residential address to credit reference agencies (CRAs) and public bodies Suppression of residential address information
Officer* information
Pre- 1 October 2009 Residential address Yes – default public disclosure Withheld from public register if serious risk of violence or intimidation
Post- 1 October 2009 Service address (residential addresses for directors* must be supplied and held by Companies House on a private register, available only to CRAs and public bodies) Yes Withheld from CRAs if serious risk of violence or intimidation
Historic residential address information put on the public register could be removed if serious risk of violence or intimidation
*From 1 October 2009, company secretaries are only required to provide a service address
PSC information
From PSC register implementation (30 June 2016) Service address Yes Withheld from CRAs if serious risk of violence or intimidation

The revised framework

The final Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (the “2018 Regulations”) came into force at the end of April 2018.  The principal changes introduced by the 2018 Regulations are that:

  • directors and PSCs will no longer have to demonstrate a serious risk of violence or intimidation as part of the application for the removal of historic residential address information from the public register
  • there is no longer a restriction preventing individuals from applying for removal of information where a residential address was placed on the register before 1 January 2003.  This date was specified in the original legislation as before that date records were held in non-electronic format, and it was previously thought that removing that information could not be done without damaging other aspects of the public record.

Accordingly, address disclosure requirements (as modified by the 2018 Regulations) are now as follows:

Default public disclosure Availability of residential address to credit reference agencies (CRAs) and public bodies Suppression of residential address information
Suppression of residential address information Service address (residential addresses for directors must be supplied and held by Companies House on a private register, available only to CRAs and public bodies) Yes

Withheld from CRA if serious risk of violence or intimidation

Historic residential address information can be removed on application

PSC information Service address Yes
Withheld from CRAs if serious risk of violence or intimidation

What will be shown if the residential address is removed?

Where an applicant’s current address must be provided due to active directorship or as a PSC, this will be replaced by the designated service address. Where they are no longer appointed to a company, the information provided for a director’s address will be limited to the first half of the postcode.

How Osborne Clarke can help

Osborne Clarke’s Company Secretarial team provides advice and ongoing company secretarial support to several hundred clients, including public and private companies, and LLPs. The team deals with all aspects of secretarial advice at each stage of the life of a company, from incorporation, the maintenance of company registers and submission of information and regulatory filings to Companies House, through to dissolution and strike off.

To find out more about the services provided by our Company Secretarial team, including applications for the suppression of officer and PSC information outlined above, please contact one of our experts below.