“Privacy, like other rights, is not absolute. As a person moves into communal relations and activities such as business and social interaction, the scope of personal space shrinks” (Extract from judgment below)
All companies – big and small, public and private – must keep registers of their shareholders and directors. And, as the SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) made clear recently, even “private” companies’ registers aren’t private at all.
An investigative journalist digs for detail
A financial journalist, investigating a controversial investment scheme, was tasked with investigating the shareholding structures of three companies.
The companies refused him access to their securities registers and he approached the High Court for assistance.
The companies asked the Court to exercise a discretion to refuse such access, and in hearing an appeal around this issue, the SCA has clarified the public’s rights as follows –
So what shareholder information is public and what is confidential?
A shareholder is only required to provide –
The shareholder can also voluntarily provide an e-mail address.
Confidentiality can be claimed – by either the company or the shareholder – for the e-mail address (if supplied) and for the identity number. Names and addresses are public, full stop.
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