Following a decision issued on 22 November 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “Court“) invalidates the provisions applicable to the register of beneficial owners (the “RBO“) which allow public access to the personal data of beneficial owners.

The Court considers that public access to beneficial owners’ information is a serious breach of their fundamental rights to respect for private life and protection of personal data. The objectives of general interest pursued by the European legislator, namely the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, do not justify public access to beneficial owners’ data.

The Court added that the possibility for Member States to make access to that information conditional to an on online registration and to provide for exemptions from general public access to the RBO does not make it possible to find a fair balance between the objectives pursued by the European legislator and the fundamental rights of beneficial owners, or to protect the latter against the risk of abuse to which they may be exposed, since the data made available to the public are easily stored and distributed.

Following this decision, access to the RBO was immediately suspended on 22 November 2022.

Consequently, the actions pending before the Luxembourg courts requesting the limitation of public access to beneficial owners’ information become without object. The limitation of access is de facto applicable since 22 November 2022. It is now necessary to wait for the official position of the Luxembourg Business Register to determine the modalities of withdrawal of the pending actions, which will probably be done in the coming weeks.

By Renaud LE SQUEREN and Matthieu VISSE.