Last week, following completion of the Lords committee stage, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, as amended in Grand Committee, was published.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills claims that:

"This Bill will open up new opportunities for small firms to innovate, compete and get finance to create jobs, grow and export. Small businesses will have access to finance and reduced red tape to thrive so that honest hardworking businesses can be confident in the rule of the law and aren’t disadvantaged by those that don’t play by the rules. It will ensure that the UK continues to be recognised globally as a trusted and fair place to do business."

Amongst the most significant provisions for UK companies are:

    (a) the requirement to keep a register of people with significant control over a company (‘PSC register’);

    (b) the abolition of bearer shares; and

    (c) the prohibition to use corporate directors save for some limited exceptions (to be set out in the regulations).

The above provisions have been proposed with a view to prevent (to the greatest extent possible) the carrying out of illegal activity and increase transparency on who owns and controls UK companies. The provisions of the Bill may also facilitate the compliance required from English professionals under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

A copy of the published Bill is attached.