On 5 May 2022, James Gaudin, Andrew Weaver and Gemma Whale of our Jersey office advised on the implications of a new UK law, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (the Act), in the Channel Islands. You can read their article here. Today, we take a look at the Act's implications for the BVI.

Once the Act comes into force and the UK's Register of Overseas Entities is launched, a BVI entity that owns UK land/real property will be required to register with Companies House (the UK registrar of companies), take reasonable steps to identify its beneficial owners or managing officers and provide verified information about them to Companies House. A six-month grace period will apply. The information must be updated annually and some of it – including the identities of BVI entities and beneficial owners – will be open for public inspection.

The register applies to future acquisitions of UK land, but also retrospectively to property bought by BVI entities in England and Wales since January 1999 and in Scotland since December 2014.

Registration will be a prerequisite to a BVI entity's ability to acquire or dispose of or lease UK property or to create a charge against it.

BVI entities that already own UK property, or are about to acquire UK property, need to consider their obligations under the Act carefully and take appropriate advice, not only in order to avoid falling foul of the new requirements, but also to determine if any of the limited number of exemptions from registration might be available in the circumstances. According to BVI Finance, the UK estimates that 11,700 BVI entities own more than 23,000 UK properties.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.