Directors of UK firms to be subject to mandatory verification

Following an announcement from the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), mandatory verification procedure involving prospective directors of UK firms and company’s persons with significant control (PSCs) has recently been introduced in UK with the aim to increase transparency in the market.

In particular, the information will be publicly accessible through a register, with the right for directors to conceal only their personal residential addresses, although these will still be available to public authorities and law enforcement agencies.

Companies House already manages a basic register, which records around 4.2 million limited companies, and was accessed 9.4 billion times in 2019. However, there have been doubts on the reliability of its information, with the result that the agency has now acquired powers to investigate false information by comparing it with data held by other public and private sector authorities. Any false information will be removed, and registered subjects will have to provide evidence through checks carried out by regulated professional service providers.

Concerns have been raised in relation to the efficiency of such measure, as verification of data would slow down the process for registration of new companies, creating more and more bureaucracy. To address this issue, Companies House has expressed its desire to implement a 24/7 digital verification process, which hasn’t been designed yet and might be difficult to implement in the short term.