Contractors' Questions: Can I remove company address if I'm in danger?
Contractor’s Question: I’m at risk of violence from a former partner and am desperately trying to remove all traces of my address from the internet and in particular, company searches. My main concern is my personal information lodged with Companies House which is on public display.
They have advised that my details first filed in 2011 can only be removed if the risk of harm is associated with the business of the company on-record. The best they can offer is to replace my address, but my current one would only be a mouse click away and still on display, wouldn’t it? How best to resolve this issue, given that I believe I'm in danger?
Expert’s Answer: Many company directors prefer to keep their personal address away from the public eye. An increasing number of companies are now formed with directors using a ‘service address.’ If you are a director you could switch your address to a service address which will then be seen on the public register going forward.
In order to do this, you will need to file Form CH01 with Companies House either using the WebFiling service or by post. However, it is important to note that although the service address will become the most immediately available address on the public record, due to the very nature of the internet, the chances of removing it entirely from all records are very limited.
The service address is the official address of a company director. The registered office address is the official address of a limited company or LLP. As a belts and braces exercise, you should also change the registered office address.
As you suggest, you could also ask Companies House to suppress your home address details from previous filed documents. However, they are only likely to do so if you or someone you live with are at risk of violence or intimidation because of your company’s affairs, as opposed to personal matters. Once again, however, this application may not remove your details entirely from websites that have ‘scraped’ data from Companies House in the past.
Harassment is both a criminal offence and a civil action under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This means that your former partner could be prosecuted in the criminal courts if he or she harasses you. It also means you can take action against that individual in the civil courts. If you feel in danger then you should contact the police immediately and take advice from a solicitor.
The expert was Michael Mulligan, a partner at Grosvenor Law, a niche litigation practice in London’s Mayfair.