The government’s plans to introduce a public register of company beneficial ownership is concerning. They do not seem to recognise the distinction between beneficial ownership and control. It is sometimes not possible to answer the question of beneficial ownership – for example, where the registered owners are trustees and their brief is such that ownership is restricted by the terms of the trust document.
Thus the beneficiaries of a trust would not normally be beneficial owners of the shares in the trusts.
One hopes that the government will concentrate on the question of control. If the guideline is beneficial ownership, then trustees will be plagued with the problem of explaining the meaning of their trusts which would, normally and fairly, be a private matter concerning them and their beneficiaries, who would necessarily have limited and sometimes protected interests.
Eric Lewis, Watford