Extra delay UBO-register: Senate requests advice on privacy when registering religious denominations

Xander Blokzijl  |  18 March 2020  |  Reading time: about 2 minutes

Summary: The Senate has asked the Council of State for advice on the bill for the UBO-register, as a result of which the debate of the bill is (even) further delayed. The Senate’s request for advice relates to the obligation for religious denominations to register. The Minister indicated earlier that it is likely that with a large number of religious denominations, the board should be regarded as a UBO. The Senate would like advice on the question of how the obligation to register natural persons with religious denominations relates to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and other regulations such as the 2007 Commercial Register Act (Handelsregisterwet 2007) and the PBO regulation (public benefit organization). This is because the GDPR considers religious or philosophical beliefs to be ‘special personal data’, whose registration is prohibited in principle. And the 2007 Commercial Register Act and the PBO regulation do not register the names of directors of religious denominations for reasons of privacy (religious conviction). It is unknown when the Council of State will deliver an advice.   

The UBO-register is a register in which almost all Dutch legal entities and companies must register their ‘ultimate beneficial owners’. For more information about the UBO-register itself, please refer to our earlier article on our website.

The Netherlands is already too late

The UBO-register is based on European legislation, namely part of the European amended Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Directive 2018/843). All EU member states must have a UBO-register as from 10 January 2020. However, the Netherlands has not yet implemented the UBO-register; the bill is still pending before the Senate (‘Implementation Act for the Registration of ultimate beneficial owners of companies and other legal entities’ (‘Implementatiewet registratie van uiteindelijk belanghebbenden van vennootschappen en andere juridische entiteiten’).

Senate wishes extra advice on UBO registration of religious denominations

On 10 March 2020, the Senate suspended the debate on the bill. The Senate has requested advice from the Council of State. The Advisory Division of the Council of State advises the government and parliament on legislation and administration. The Senate’s request for advice relates to the obligation for religious denominations to register. The Minister has previously indicated that it is likely that with a large number of religious denominations, the board should be regarded as a UBO.

Relation with GDPR

The Senate would like advice on the question of how the obligation to register natural persons with religious denominations relates to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The GDPR considers religious or philosophical beliefs to be ‘special personal data’, whose registration is prohibited in principle.

Relationship with the 2007 Commercial Register Act and the PBO regulation

The Senate also wishes advice on the question of how the obligation to register natural persons with religious denominations relates to other regulations, such as the 2007 Commercial Register Act and the PBO regulation (public benefit organization). These regulations do not register the names of directors of religious denominations for reasons of privacy (religious conviction).

Religious denominations previously excluded

In the original bill, an exception to the obligation to register was included for religious denominations. During the debate in the House of Representatives, this exception was deleted, on the grounds of the importance of effectively combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Earlier, privacy advice was sought (advice from the Dutch Data Protection Authority and a ‘data protection impact assessment’), but this advice predates the deletion of the exception for religious denominations. It is unknown when the Council of State will deliver an advice.

Do you have any questions? Please contact Xander Blokzijl.

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