Transparency of ultimate ownership to be a reality for UK corporates

Four months on from our “Question Time”-style event on transparency of corporate ownership, public registers of who really controls UK corporates are set to become a reality.  The act to introduce them (the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act) was passed in the final days of Parliamentary session and just before election fever began.  According to the BIS provisional implementation timetable, companies will be required to keep the new registers of People with Significant Control (PSC Registers) from January next year.  Given that the two main parties support the proposals and consultations on necessary delegated legislation are already underway, the outcome of the election is unlikely to result in any delay.

For the many UK companies with simple corporate structures, there will be a small amount of additional paperwork, but the changes are unlikely to have big implications.  But for others with more complex corporate structures, the work to interpret what are fairly complex provisions will now begin.  On an international level there is still debate as to whether public registers will help in the fight against tax evasion and corruption or be a step too far.  As the first country to adopt public registers, other countries will be watching our experience closely.

For more information on the changes for UK Corporates, including other changes to be brought in by the act in stages between now and April 2016, click here.