ICSA Ireland

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A big ask of the new Companies' Registrar

06 March 2015 by Salvador Nash

Our heartiest congratulations to the new Company Registrar, Maureen O’Sullivan, for taking on the role that will include implementing some of the biggest company law reforms we’ve seen since the foundation of the State. Adopting the old adage of ‘be careful what you ask for’ we know that this is a big task, and a big ask of the Registrar.

The list of things she will undertake in the coming years is long, very long. There’s the new Companies Act that we have been making members aware of since publication last year. There’s a new charges regime. We await with interest her take on how to frame future legislation on disclosure of beneficial ownership – a measure we believe will face some opposition from those who prefer to remain in the shadows. And that’s just half the list…

Her first task, post June 2015, is the conversion of almost every company in the country, all 180,000 of them, to their new statuses. That will mean, in the immediate future, the redesign of the existing statutory forms, and presumably further changes post June 2015.

On the issue of disclosure of beneficial ownership, brought to us courtesy of EU legislation requiring companies to disclosure persons with significant control the big question facing Ms. O’Sullivan here is whether or not the CRO will be required to, or will wish to, maintain this public register. This is particularly so in a country where we like to keep our business dealings very much to ourselves – the CRO will effectively be charged with changing our business culture pretty fundamentally.

Speaking of Irish business’s preference for staying in the shadows the new CRO boss will also have to determine whether regulations will require the Registrar to redact existing information to take directors residential addresses off the public record. This is partly to deal with data protection but it also challenges other efforts being made to get greater transparency in the commercial space.

And just when the new boss thought she had reached the end of her ‘to do’ list we understand that she may also have to look at her office requirements and whether their Parnell Square, Dublin, offices are still for purpose (she’ll also have to make a final call on the CRO’s Carlow office that was one part of a past administration’s Big Move – or decentralisation – idea).

And whereas the organisation’s location is somewhat secondary to the requirements of our organisation we certainly will look forward to hearing from Ms. O’Sullivan about a technology upgrade, to bring access to company information into the twenty first century and providing professionals in the field with the type of instant information that we expect from other areas of a reforming public sector.

Plenty to get on with so?!