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New Inspection Regime:

What you need to know

4 minute read

On 23 August 2021, Phase 1 of the New Inspection Regime under the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance was implemented. The new regime will provide additional safeguards to protect your personal data. This is relevant to directors and other relevant individuals who appear on the Companies Registry.

Under the previous guidelines, members of the public were able to access certain personal information about any company’s directors, company secretaries, or liquidators in the event that the company was wound up, or liquidated. Such data included their usual residential addresses (URA) and full identification numbers (IDN).

Read on for a thorough breakdown of how that is currently changing with the implementation of the New Inspection Regime.

Overview:

The New Inspection Regime

The revised provisions pave the way for the following additional protections:

  • Correspondence addresses and partial IDNs of directors, company secretaries, and other relevant individuals will be shown in the Companies Register
  • The URA and full IDN of these individuals will only be made accessible to specified persons upon application
  • If you’ve disclosed Protected Information in documents filed before the New Inspection Regime commenced, you can apply to the Companies Registry to withhold that information from inspection.

Timeline for implementation

The new inspection regime is being set into place in three phases as outlined below:

  • Phase 1 – Companies Ordinance provisions will allow your company to withhold the URA of directors and the full IDN of directors and company secretaries from public inspection of your private registers. This phase began with specific subsidiary legislation introduced to the Legislative Council in August 2021.
  • Phase 2 – Starting in October 2022, Companies Ordinance provisions will expand to allow Protected Information in the Companies Registry to be withheld from public inspection (only applicable to documents filed for registration after Phase 2 commences).
  • Phase 3 – Starting in December 2023, all remaining Companies Ordinance Provisions will come into effect. You can apply to the registry if you wish to suppress Protected Information already filed in the registry from public inspection.

What happens between Phase 1 and Phase 2?

Between Phase 1 and Phase 2, the following transitional arrangements are in place:

  • Your company’s register of directors is not required to contain its directors’ correspondence address before the first annual return date on or after Phase 2.
  • Your company’s registered office address is to be regarded as the directors’ corresponding address until (1) the day your company enters the correspondence address into its register of directors or (2) the first annual return date on or after Phase 2 begins, whichever date comes earlier.
  • Before Phase 2 begins, your company does not need to deliver to the Registrar of Companies for entering or making any change to correspondence address of directors in register of directors

How can my company prepare?

From the day the necessary legislative amendments passes until Phase 2 commences in October 2022, your company can only exclude from public inspection the URAs and IDNs held in your own registers. Your company can choose whether this is something you want to do – and if so, you can amend your company’s internal processes.

Wrap up

Hong Kong’s New Inspection Regime has been introduced to protect the privacy of your directors, company secretaries, and other relevant members on your company’s private register. These changes will be applied in phases, but there are some items you should be aware of now, in this transitional period between Phases 1 and 2, to protect your personal data. For more information about Hong Kong’s new inspection regime, you can visit https://www.cr.gov.hk/en/legislation/nir/overview.htm.

 If you’re unsure of how to proceed, feel free to reach out to Sleek with any questions you may have. Our experts can give you more information and help you discuss your options when it comes to protecting your privacy.

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