Saffery warns the government against rushing further transparency of land ownership involving trusts

22 Feb 2024

Scottish fields

In December 2023 the government launched a consultation on improving transparency of land ownership involving trusts.

It wanted views on options to widen access to trust information held on the Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) and how ownership of land involving trusts could generally be made more transparent.

Our response highlights that, although we support the government’s aims to tackle illegal activities and to resolve issues in the property sector:

  1. We have concerns about the consultation proposals, and the potential impact of them on the legitimate use of trusts and the privacy and security of people associated with trusts.
  2. We believe that the consultation blurs the distinction between the government and law enforcement needing to have details of land ownership and the need for this information to be public.
  3. We believe the government already has much of the information it needs to meet its aims, or will have once changes that have already been announced have been implemented. The government should reconsider whether it needs more information once the announced changes have been implemented.
  4. Any future changes should balance making information available to those with a genuine reason for accessing it, and the right to privacy of individuals involved in trusts, who may never actually benefit from the trust or any UK land it holds.
  5. There are several challenges with the current ROE system and we suggest that the government focuses on improving the quality and accuracy of the information held on the ROE, and other existing registers, and on improving the way government agencies work together, rather than on wanting more information from trusts or making the information public.

Our full response is available to read.

Find out more about the trust services we offer. You can also get touch with your usual Saffery contact or speak to Allan Holmes.

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Allan Holmes
Partner, London

Key experience

A member of the Private Wealth and Estates Group, Alan specialises in trust and private client compliance and tax advisory.