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16 January 2019

84: Is privacy a chimera?

Offshore trustees have faced significant challenges in recent years in the context of both international compliance and UK tax. In particular, those owning UK residential property have faced a continually changing tax landscape. This shows no sign of letting up, with further changes afoot for the inclusion of gains on all UK commercial property and land from April 2019. The debate on transparency versus privacy continues following the introduction of LEIs, PSC registers for companies and the UK Trust Register.

With all these developments, and more, it can be hard to keep track of the stage that each new initiative has reached.

In an article titled ‘Is privacy a chimera?’, originally published in the International Comparative Legal Guide to Private Client 2019, Helen Ratcliffe and Carolyn O’Sullivan provide a review of what has happened as regards the move to greater transparency over the past year and what is now in the pipeline including the extension of the UK Trust Register and the introduction of a public register of beneficial owners of UK residential property. The article also covers the latest moves by the UK government to tackle tax evasion and the changes to the taxation of UK property mentioned above.

From a constitutional law perspective the provision in The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 for the introduction of public registers in the British Overseas Territories was an interesting move and the article provides some general observations on this. Since the article was written it has been announced that the Overseas Territories will have until 2023 to produce operational public registers, an extension of three years to the timescale provided in the legislation.

As the article concludes:

‘in a year when the General Data Protection Regulations came into effect, and the UK domestic legislation, the Data Protection Act 2018, largely came into force, the continuing pressure on financial transparency (for all the reasons which are understood) may leave advisers feeling there is an inherent contradiction between transparency and the fundamental right to the protection of personal data. Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle included among his animals a fictional literary animal, the ‘pushmi pullyu’ – that sums up perfectly how many trustees and their advisers feel.’

Keep Calm and Carry On: The Increasing UK Regulatory and Tax Issues Facing Offshore Trustees (originally published in the International Comparative Legal Guide to Private Client 2018)

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