Under the 1985 Companies Act, the register of shareholders of a company was open to the public, although a small fee could be charged to non-shareholders wishing to inspect it. Instances of ‘direct action’ against shareholders by militants opposed to activities of a company and the misuse of information in shareholders’ registers generally have led to a change in the law under the Companies Act 2006.
The information contained in annual returns made up to any date after 30 September 2008 is no longer generally available. Specifically:
public companies whose shares are traded on an EU regulated market only have to file the names, addresses and holdings of shareholders who have held 5 per cent or more of any class of shares at any time during the year in question; and
all other public companies and private companies only have to supply shareholder names and holdings, not addresses, in respect of all shareholders.
See The Companies Act 2006 Ss 116–119.