Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

Written evidence submitted by Wilkins Kennedy LLP (SB 40)

1. We have been examining the proposals for the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill with interest. We think it is, on the whole, a very positive development to support enterprise in the UK, with one main concern.

2. The Bill may allow the opportunity for foreign companies to not comply with UK rules.

3. The Bill outlines in Clauses 70-72 that companies will be required by law to identify and make public any persons with significant control to Companies House, as this is thought to deter misleading information.

4. However, the disclosure regime is not extended to foreign companies operating in the UK. As the rest of the world has not yet implemented a similar scheme, this entitles a foreign business to choose to preserve privacy, whilst still operating in the UK. This means that transparency becomes optional for these companies, and represents a significant loophole.

5. We would recommend that this issue is examined to ensure that this loophole is closed.

6. As background, Wilkins Kennedy LLP was established in 1882 and has grown to become one of the UK’s top 20 firms of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers with a turnover of over £34 million. The firm has 72 partners and approximately 500 staff in fifteen UK offices.

October 2014

Prepared 22nd October 2014