UK Crime Transparency and Enforcement Act 2022

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On the 15 March, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 became law in the UK.

This new piece of legislation introduces a number of new obligations, some of which will apply to Irish companies that own land in the UK.

The key features of the new legislation

The Act creates a registration requirement at Companies House for any “overseas entity” which owns a “qualifying estate” in land in the UK which was bought on or after 1 January 1999.  All overseas entities (including trusts) must register and disclose their beneficial owners and Companies House will allocate an overseas entity ID number for each entity registered.

The Act has also included a provision to prevent entities avoiding registration by selling their properties before the Register is fully setup, by requiring any overseas entity which enters into a “relevant disposition” of a qualifying estate on or after 28 February 2022 until the end of the transitional period to register pursuant to the Act. A relevant disposition will capture a transfer, a grant of a lease of seven years or more and the grant of security.  The transitional period is to last for six months commencing on the date the new register comes into force.

The Act requires the overseas entities to update their information annually and also a number of offences for non compliance, which are punishable by fines and imprisonment.

The register will be publicly accessible, but there are some exceptions and there is an annual requirement to update the register every 12 months.

Implications for Irish Companies

Clients should determine whether or not they are in scope for registration as an overseas entity that owns land in the UK. If in scope, as commencement is expected any day, steps should be taken now to gather the required information to permit registration with Companies House in the UK before the end of the transitional period.