New Search Arrangements in Hong Kong: Restricting Public Access to Protected Data of Directors and Company Secretaries

【 2021-10-22 Source: Hong Kong Companies Registry 】

The Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622) prescribes new search arrangements for personal data contained in the Companies Register maintained by the Companies Registry.
The Registrar maintains a company register for public inspection, which contains personal data. Such personal data include the usual residential addresses and full identification numbers of the directors of the company, as well as the full identification numbers of the company secretary and certain other persons (such as liquidators and provisional liquidators). Similar personal data are also contained in the register kept by the company for public inspection.
According to the relevant provisions of the Companies Ordinance on new search arrangements (these provisions were passed by the Legislative Council in July 2012 but have not yet fully come into force), the company register will use the correspondence address of directors instead of ordinary residential addresses, and Partial identification numbers of secretaries and other relevant persons are available for public inspection in lieu of full numbers. Normally the residential address and full identification number (hereinafter referred to as “Protected Data”) can only be obtained by a “specified person” through application. Likewise, companies can keep protected data from public inspection on registers kept by companies.

The new search arrangement will be implemented in three phases. Details of the phased implementation are as follows:

(a) The first stage

Starting from 23 August 2021, companies may use the correspondence addresses of directors in place of their usual residential addresses, and the partial identification numbers of directors and company secretaries in place of full numbers in their registers for public inspection;

(b) Second stage

Starting from 24 October 2022, the protected data contained in the Director’s Index in the Companies Register will be replaced by a correspondence address and part of an identification number for public inspection. Protected data contained in documents registered with the Registry after this phase begins will no longer be available for public inspection. A “specified person” may request access to the protected data of directors, etc.;

(c) The third stage

Beginning on 27 December 2023, data subjects may apply to the Registry not to provide protected data contained in documents registered with the Registry (hereinafter referred to as “non-provided data”), with their mailing address and part of their identities The identification number is substituted for public inspection. A “specified person” may apply to the Registry for access to non-provided information of directors, etc.

Remarks: It is for reference for the extensive collection of relevant information.