Commencement dates for the new inspection regime under the Companies Ordinance
Following our report on the proposed implementation of a new inspection regime regarding public inspection of personal information in the Hong Kong Companies Registry which includes, amongst other things, the usual residential addresses (“URA”) and full identification numbers (“IDN”) of directors, company secretaries and some other individuals (such as liquidators and provisional liquidators), the Government published in the Gazette on 18 June 2021 the following commencement notices and subsidiary legislation for implementation of the inspection regime:-
- Companies Ordinance (Commencement) Notice 2021
- Companies Ordinance (Commencement) (No. 2) Notice 2021
- Companies Ordinance (Commencement) (No. 3) Notice 2021
- Companies (Residential Addresses and Identification Numbers) Regulation
- Company Records (Inspection and Provision of Copies) (Amendment) Regulation 2021
- Companies (Non-Hong Kong Companies) (Amendment) Regulation 2021
- Companies Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 11) Notice 2021
The timing for the implementation of the new inspection regime is part of the Government’s effort to combat concerns regarding a recent increase in “doxxing” – the use and publication on the Internet or social media of private information about individuals, typically with malicious intent.
The commencement dates of the three phases of the new inspection regime is set out below:-
Phase 1 – From 23 August 2021, companies may replace the URAs of directors with their correspondence address, and replace the full IDNs of directors and company secretaries with partial IDNs for the purpose of public inspection in their own registers.
Phase 2 – From 24 October 2022, Protected Information (defined to mean the URA and full IDN) on the Index of Directors maintained on the Companies Registry will be replaced with a correspondence address and partial IDNs for public inspection. Protected Information in documents filed after commencement of Phase 2 will no longer be available for public inspection.
Phase 3 – From 27 December 2023, data subjects can apply to the Companies Registry for protection and replacement of their Protected Information contained in documents filed prior to commencement of Phase 2 of the regime.
Notwithstanding this, “specified persons” including a liquidator, a trustee in bankruptcy, a public officer of a public body, a solicitor, or a certified public accountant (practising), may still apply to the Companies Registry for access to such protected information.
This new inspection regime will strike a reasonable balance between adequate public access whilst enabling specified persons who have legitimate reasons for accessing the full Protected Information to do so.
Contact us today if you need advice with company secretarial matters or to find out more about the application process under the new inspection regime.