‘World’s first’ public register of overseas beneficial owners of UK property

31st January, 2018

Following the announcement that entities holding UK property, or that enter into UK public procurement contracts will be required to register their beneficial ownership in a public register, the UK government has released a timetable for the introduction of the new legislation.

Under the timetable, as published, the government intends to issue the draft legislation this summer with the final legislation being introduced to UK parliament in summer 2019. The register will then go live in early 2021. The timetable reaffirms the government’s commitment to the register, while providing a time-frame for participants to ensure that they understand their obligations and that they will be compliant with the forthcoming legislation.

The government claims that the register will be the first of its kind in the world, and its purpose is to “crack down on criminal gangs laundering dirty money in the UK”.

In its initial consultation, the government set out some details in respect of how the new register will operate:

  • The UK property regime is expected to apply to all legal entities, with no minimum value requirement, whilst the UK public procurement regime is intended to apply to future contracts valued over £10 million
  • Where a legal entity is required to register its beneficial ownership in another jurisdiction, there should be no requirement for the entity to supply the same information to the UK
  • The beneficial ownership test will mirror that of the people with significant control (PSC regime whereby the test will capture the individuals who ultimately own or control more than 25% of an entity, or who otherwise exercise control over it or its management). Like the PSC regime, the register will be maintained by Companies House
  • Entities registering its beneficial ownership information will be given a unique reference which they will be required to provide to the Land Registry or to the contracting authority, as relevant.

Its response to this consultation is expected to be published “shortly”.

In the meantime, if you have any queries regarding the new legislation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Property Accounting Specialists.

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