As from April 2016 there is a mandatory obligation on UK companies to maintain a register of the individual(s) who ultimately owns or controls more than 25% of a company’s shares or voting rights. From June 2016 details contained on the register (known as the Register of People with Significant Control (“PSC”)) are to be filed at Companies House and shall thereafter be made public. The register must detail the full name, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, residential address and service address of the individual(s) concerned, along with the date on which the interest was acquired and details of how it is held. Breach of these rules by the company or the relevant beneficial owner is a criminal offence punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
In a move similar to the Register of PSCs, the Government announced on 12 May 2016 that any foreign company that wishes to buy UK property or bid for a central government contract will have to join a new public register of beneficial ownership information before they can do so. This register will apply to both commercial and residential property and to foreign companies who already own property in the UK. The register is designed to curb corruption and whilst there are concerns over the impact it may have on a property owner’s privacy, the availability of the information is likely to have a positive impact on those persons looking to locate assets in the jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing court judgments.