New Inspection Regime under the Companies Ordinance – Restraint on Public Access to Protected Information of Directors and Company Secretaries

This year the Government proposed to bring into operation the new inspection regime under the Companies Ordinance. The subsidiary legislation relating to implementation of the new regime (“Subsidiary Legislation“) was gazetted on 18 June 2021 and tabled at LegCo for negative vetting.

The key feature of the new regime is the restraint on public access to the usual residential addresses / full identification numbers of directors and company secretaries (collectively, “Protected Information“). Instead, their correspondence addresses / partial identification numbers would be made available for public inspection.

Certain specified persons may apply to the Registrar for access to Protected Information. Upon such applications and subject to meeting the requirements under the legislation, the Registrar may disclose the Protected Information to the specified persons. Examples of specified persons are a member of the company, a solicitor, a CPA (practising) and a financial institution.

According to the proposed timeline, the new regime will be implemented in three phases:-

  • Starting on 23 August 2021, a company may withhold Protected Information from inspection despite the requirements for such information to be contained in the company’s registers.
  • Starting on 24 October 2022, the Registrar must not make available for public inspection the Protected Information contained in a document that is required by the Ordinance under which the document is registered with the Companies Registry to contain such information.
  • Starting on 27 December 2023, data subjects may apply to the Registrar for withholding from public inspection their Protected Information contained in a document already registered with the Companies Registry before 24 October 2022.

On 16 July 2021, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Subsidiary Legislation indicated that the Subcommittee would not propose any amendments to the Subsidiary Legislation and would submit a written report in due course.


Full texts of the Subsidiary Legislation are available here.

4 August 2021
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