All companies (except certain listed companies) are required to keep a register of people with significant control (PSC register) and, file relevant information at Companies House. This requirement is in addition to those in respect of existing registers.
The requirement to keep a PSC register has the objective of increasing transparency over control and ownership of UK companies. However, this places additional obligations on companies, their officers and the people with significant control over them.
The new requirements include:
Changes to the information on persons of significant control must be updated on the company’s own register within 14 days and notified to Companies House within a further 14 days. Regardless of any changes companies must also confirm, through their annual confirmation statement, that the information about their PSCs, as held on the central register, is correct.
If at any time the company is aware that the information on the PSC register needs to change, but the relevant information has not yet been confirmed, the register must be updated to show the date from which the information was no longer correct and the status of the investigation into the new PSCs.
A PSC is defined as an individual that meets on or more of the following conditions:
A company must take reasonable steps to identify its PSCs. Some companies may have no PSCs or find it easy to ascertain who the PSCs are, but others may have to carefully follow all the steps laid out to try to establish if there are any PSCs and, if so, their identity and details.
In some cases a company is owned or controlled by a legal entity, rather than an individual. Details of relevant and registrable legal entities must also be put on the PSC register. An entity that owns or controls a company is relevant if it keeps its own PSC register or has voting shares admitted to trading in certain markets (eg it is listed on the London Stock Exchange).
The PSC register must be kept, and it cannot be blank! Where, for example, a company is in the process of obtaining information or confirming, a specific statement to that effect is required by law to be made in the PSC register.
New information must be entered on your company’s PSC register within 14 days and filed with Companies House within a further 14 days. Failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence.
The particulars of a relevant individual that are required to be obtained and confirmed for inclusion in a company's PSC register include:
A specific statement is also required in the PSC register if you believe the company has no PSCs.
Information about a PSC must be confirmed before you enter it on the PSC register. Information can be treated as confirmed if the PSC:
There are a number of legal obligations on a PSC. For example, a relevant individual that does not respond to requests for PSC information may be committing a criminal offence. A company is also entitled to apply restrictions to shares or rights in the company held by the individual who is not responding.
Almost all of the information on the central PSC register is available to the public. The only information that will not be available is the PSC’s usual residential address (unless this has been supplied as the service address) and the day of the PSC’s date of birth. The PSC register that you keep must be available for public inspection, but you should not provide the usual residential address of any PSC when it is inspected or a copy is requested.
If you choose to keep your PSC register only at Companies House then all of the information that would otherwise appear in the company’s PSC register will be available publicly. This means your PSC’s full date of birth will appear, but the residential address will still be suppressed.
In exceptional circumstances (where there is a serious risk of violence or intimidation) there is a regime for suppressing all information relating to the PSC from the PSC register and the central register for public inspection or for preventing their residential address being shared with credit rating agencies.
Of course all of the information will be available to law enforcement agencies and Companies House will supply information regarding residential addresses and dates of birth to credit reference agencies and certain public authorities in certain circumstances.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the PSC regime could lead to the company or directors, or identified PSCs committing a criminal offence. The company and its directors could face a fine or imprisonment, or both.
In this regard it should be noted that under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (as amended) those in the regulated sector for anti-money laundering purposes, such as accountants or solicitors, have a duty to inspect a company’s PSC register and report any discrepancies in beneficial ownership to Companies House.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has issued a significant amount of additional information in the form of summary, statutory and non-statutory guidance in this area. This guidance contains, for example, further detail of the requirements and processes involved at various stages of keeping the PSC register, official wording for entering on the PSC register and example notices relating to obtaining and confirming PSC information.