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Protecting your privacy

09 November 2010

The recent case involving Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratory provides an example of a situation where company directors would prefer to keep their home addresses out of the public domain. In the case, five animal rights activists were jailed in October 2010 for intimidating staff at firms linked to the animal testing company.

Companies Act 2008

A small change contained in the Companies Act 2006 relates to the publication of directors’ addresses. Previously, every company director was obliged to provide Companies House with his home address, which then appeared on the public record. As well as opening the way to copious junk mail, this carried more sinister risks for those working in sensitive industries and occupations.

Though a residential address still has to be provided, directors can now give a service address (eg the company’s registered office) which will appear on the public record instead. The change is relatively simple to make, using form CH01.

Although this step means that a home address is no longer available to the public, it may still be disclosed by Companies House to credit reference agencies and certain authorities. Some directors may feel they would like more security over their residential information.

Companies Act 2006

Section 243 of the Companies Act 2006 offers another option. It allows a director to apply for his details to be further protected if he is at serious risk of violence or intimidation because of the activities his company is involved in. The Huntingdon Life Sciences case is a good example. Former members of sensitive organisations such as GCHQ or a police force can also now apply for protected status. Companies House may still pass details to specific public authorities and under court order, but these circumstances are limited and subject to confidentiality restrictions.

The application is made on form SR04, and may be made before a director is appointed. There is a fee of £100. Applicants need to provide various pieces of identity information and important unless they were previously a member of a sensitive organisation, sufficient evidence of their belief that they could be at risk.

For more information on protecting your privacy, please contact the commercial team today.

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Chris Wills LLB (Hons)
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