Inspection regime to run in phases

The Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau today said subsidiary legislations have been gazetted to implement the new public inspection regime under the Companies Ordinance in three phases.   The subsidiary legislations stipulate that the Companies Registry (CR)’s Companies Register is to make available for public inspection, directors’ correspondence addresses in place of their usual residential addresses (URAs), and partial identification numbers (IDNs) of directors, company secretaries and other relevant people in place of full IDNs.   These legislations include the Companies Ordinance (Commencement) Notice 2021, the Companies Ordinance (Commencement) (No. 2) Notice 2021, the Companies Ordinance (Commencement) (No. 3) Notice 2021, the Companies (Residential Addresses and Identification Numbers) Regulation, the Company Records (Inspection and Provision of Copies) (Amendment) Regulation 2021, the Companies (Non-Hong Kong Companies) (Amendment) Regulation 2021 and the Companies Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 11) Notice 2021, which will be tabled at the Legislative Council for negative vetting on June 23.   The Companies Ordinance was passed by LegCo in 2012, but the new provisions on public inspection of information have yet to be implemented.   In view of rising community concern over whether personal information contained in public registers is adequately protected, the Government considers it appropriate to implement the new inspection regime under the Companies Ordinance now, in order to enhance personal information while ensuring that the public can continue inspecting the register, the bureau said.   Under the new regime, specified people may access URAs and full IDNs which are categorised as protected information.   Specified people include data subjects and those they authorise; the company's members; public officers, public bodies and people or organisations who need to use protected information for executing statutory functions; lawyers practising in law firms and practising accountants; banks; and financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions regulated under the Anti-Money Laundering & Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance.   The new inspection regime will run in three phases, with phase one starting on August 23, in which companies may replace directors’ URAs with their correspondence addresses, and directors’ and company secretaries’ full IDNs with their partial IDNs on their registers for public inspection.   Phase two starts on October 24 next year. Protected information on the index of directors on the register will be replaced with correspondence addresses and partial IDNs for public inspection. Protected information contained in documents filed for registration after the commencement of this phase will not be provided for public inspection. Specified persons may apply to the CR for accessing protected information.   Starting from phase three which commences on December 27, 2023, data subjects may apply to the CR for protecting their protected information from public inspection contained in documents already registered with the CR before the commencement of phase two, and replace such information with correspondence addresses and partial IDNs. Specified people may apply to the CR for accessing protected information.
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