Tax & Legal 23 November, 2022

European Court wide accessibility to information UBO register is inadmissible

UBO register
Crowe Peak/ Knowledge Hub/ Tax & Legal/

European Court wide accessibility to information UBO register is inadmissible

The European Court of Justice of the European Union ruled 22 November 2022 that access to information in the UBO register should be significantly restricted. Public access to information from the UBO register violates European fundamental privacy rights, according to the European Court.

UBO register 

From 27 September 2020, the UBO register has been established in the Netherlands. This is based on European legislation. On 27 March 2022 (1.5 years after the entry into force of the Dutch UBO register), every company in the Netherlands will be subject to the UBO registration obligation.

UBO information available to the general public

The UBO register provides the general public (for a small fee) with access to certain personal information about ultimate stakeholders of a given company, as well as the nature and extent of their interest in that company. Only in very exceptional cases is it possible to shield this information from the general public. These include cases where it can be demonstrated that there is a high risk of fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, harassment, violence or intimidation. In practice, this means that personal data can only be shielded if the UBO is a minor, enjoys police protection or is under guardianship or administration.

Unjustified curtailment of fundamental rights

In its ruling on 22 November, the European Court ruled that access to personal information of UBOs by the general public constitutes an unjustified restriction of fundamental rights regarding respect for privacy and the protection of personal data.

What does this ruling mean for the UBO register?

For the time being, the UBO registration obligation will remain unchanged. This ruling therefore does not mean that the UBO registration obligation for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands has lapsed altogether. You are still obliged to register the UBO. So what does change? As a result of this ruling, the Kamer van Koophandel has temporarily stopped accessing the UBO register with immediate effect. How the longer-term consequences of this judgment will be shaped by the Chamber of Commerce remains to be seen. The ruling of the European Court will first have to be adopted by national courts. Something will also have to change in the legislation so that the accessibility to the personal information of UBOs is significantly restricted. Our expectation is therefore that, as a result of this judgment, the UBO register will continue in slimmed-down form and will no longer be easily accessible to everyone.

Does your organisation need advice on UBO registration for the company and the UBO? Or would you like to exchange views on UBO-related issues? Crowe Peak’s specialists are ready. Contact us directly.

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