Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

Supplementary written evidence submitted by the Law Society of England and Wales (SB 54)

1. The Law Society of England and Wales ("the Society") is the professional body for the solicitors' profession in England and Wales, representing over 160,000 registered legal practitioners. The Society represents the profession to Parliament, government and regulatory bodies and has a public interest in the reform of the law.

2. This evidence has been prepared by the Society's Company Law Committee. The Committee is a specialist body of practitioners and experts in company law matters, whose purpose is to review, and promote improvements in, company law.

3. The following supplementary evidence is provided in answer to Question 97 asked by Mr Andy McDonald MP at Column 45 in Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons 14 October, 2014.

4. Mr McDonald asked the following question:

"Mr Beattie, you mentioned belonging to other jurisdictions as perhaps being more attractive if we are burdened with this declaration of beneficial interests and beneficial ownerships. Have you looked at the Crown dependencies for their experiences? My understanding is that the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey have embraced declaration of beneficial ownership well ahead of the UK. Have you looked at that experience and has that put off companies from locating there?"

5. The Law Society's has made enquiries in relation to the practices in the Crown Dependencies mentioned by Mr McDonald. The Society's enquiries have not revealed any dependencies that require the disclosure of beneficial ownership to be made public.

6. Many dependencies have made considerable changes to their regulatory regimes to improve disclosure and transparency to regulatory authorities, for example, requiring verification of the information provided.

7. Verification can be, for example, the certification by a solicitor/accountant or other specified person that the passport copy (for proof of name) is a true copy of the original and also a true likeness of the individual. The advantage of this is that it means that the solicitor/accountant has to see the individual in question in order to certify true likeness. For proof of address this would be a certification that the copy utility bill is a true copy of the original (not more than three months old). The advantage of the three month rule is that the address is reasonably current.

8. This type of disclosure is similar to the regime in the UK in relation to compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

October 2014

Prepared 31st October 2014