Until late in 2009,  all Company Directors and Company Secretaries in England and Wales were required to disclose their home addresses to the general public.

They must disclose them to the Registrar of Companies House and they did so in the knowledge that that information will be made available to anyone who pays a small fee to the Registry to discover it. The only exceptions were for those who have applied for and obtained a “Confidentiality Order”. Various reasons had to be proven before such an order could be obtained. One such might be that the Company’s activity renders its officers liable to personal attack by criminals. For example a drug company testing the effect of new medicines on animals might expect to suffer terrorist attacks and an Order could at least enable Officers to keep their home addresses secret.

This has changed

From 1st October 2009 every Director and Secretary must provide Companies House with both their usual residential address, and for each appointment they hold, a service address. The service address will be on the public record and will be public information but the residential address will be protected information.

A Director can choose any address as the service address including the registered office address of the company. The address must be where documents can be delivered and an acknowledgement or receipt can be provided if required. The address cannot be a PO Box or a DX number. If the Director chooses to use his residential address as the service address the fact that the two addresses are the same would not be apparent from the public record.

The residential address will only be available to prescribed regulatory authorities such as the police and HMRC, and it may also be made available to Credit Reference Agencies.

What does the introduction of service address mean for Directors?

Directors are able to file a service address for the public record. This address can be the same as the residential address, or the registered office address, or it can be somewhere different. This was introduced from 1st October 2009.

What does the introduction of service addresses mean for my Clients?   Whilst not all Notaries appear to take the same view, my own opinion is that when I notarise a Company document executed by a Company Officer, I shall be content to refer to the registered Service Address in my Certificate and shall not seek to insist that your Residential Address is used. This does not of course alter my requirement that every client appearing before me must provide evidence of identity and full residential address; the change is that this information is for my own records only and need not be shown in the Notarised paperwork should you prefer that the Service Address is shown instead.   Please note that this blog does not contain the full detail of the changes. They are disclosed in full on the Companies House Website and the link below gives further information as to who can lawfully gain access to the residential address details and for what reason.