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Access to RBO suspended

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By Sharon McCaffrey & Sarah Flanagan


Published 06 December 2022


In a recent landmark judgement in Joined Cases C-37/20 (Luxembourg Business Registers) and C-601/20 (Sovim), the European Court of Justice (the “ECJ”) has ruled that certain provisions in the anti-money-laundering directive (Directive (EU) 2015/849) (the “AML Directive”) - whereby information on the beneficial ownership of companies incorporated in Member States is accessible in all cases to any member of the general public - are invalid.


The ECJ found that providing the general public with access to certain information on beneficial ownership constitutes a serious interference with the fundamental right to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the “Charter”).

In Ireland the provisions of the AML Directive concerning beneficial ownership of companies have been transposed by way of the European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership Of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019. For Irish corporate entities, the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial and Provident Societies (the “Irish RBO”) is the central repository of the information required to be held by those entities.

Following the ECJ’s decision last week, the Luxembourg Business Registers suspended public access to its register of beneficial ownership data.

The Irish RBO has now followed suit and suspended its search facility pending a review. It is currently working on measures to ensure compliance with the ECJ ruling by providing that access to the register is only made available to certain designated persons – presumably those who can demonstrate a legitimate interest.

The concerns addressed by the ECJ under the Charter potentially have wider application in company law. For example, the level of personal data which is publicly available in the case of directors of Irish corporate entities has long been an issue of concern particularly for non-resident directors. While there is a process which enables directors in certain circumstances to have their residential address details kept off the public register, it is currently very difficult for directors to meet the requirements of this regime and it is considered by many to be unsatisfactory. It may be that the full impact of the ECJ’s ruling remains to be seen.

For more information please contact a member of DAC Beachcroft Dublin’s Corporate & Commercial Team.

This article is intended to provide a general overview and guidance on a particular topic. It is provided wholly without any liability or responsibility on the part of DAC Beachcroft and does not replace the necessity to obtain specific legal advice.