Posted by Gary Mackley-Smith on September 5, 2017
From 3 January 2018, legal entities such as companies, trusts, partnerships and charities will need to have a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) if they wish to trade on financial markets in the UK, or continue to receive investment services.
This is due to a new EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Regulation which takes effect on that date.
Individuals are not affected and do not have to obtain an LEI.
An LEI is a 20-character alphanumeric reference code that is unique to each legal entity, and is used as an identifier whenever the entity carries out any investment activity in shares or bonds, or an investment firm undertakes such investment activity on the entity’s behalf. The LEI enables regulatory authorities in the UK and EU to monitor trading activity, police market abuse or manipulation.
Legal entities affected by the regulation include trusts (but not bare trusts), companies, pension funds (but not Self-invested Personal Pensions), charities, academy schools and partnerships. Other unincorporated societies may also be affected.
Whilst each legal entity is responsible for obtaining their own LEI, some investment firms may offer to do this on behalf of their clients, though they may charge for doing so. Failure to obtain an LEI will mean that after 2 January 2018 investment firms will not be able to provide the legal entity with investment services.
In the UK, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the regulatory body from whom an LEI can be obtained. It has produced a template that can be used for this purpose. The LSE will charge an initial fee of £115 + VAT, and an annual charge of £70 + VAT per LEI. See below on how to register.
There are particular issues with trusts, other than bare trusts which are excluded from the requirements. Where a trust does engage in financial transactions with equities and bonds, it will need to obtain an LEI. In the case of discretionary trusts, which have legal restrictions and cannot disclose trust details, the LSE has said it will accept a validation from the trust itself and will not need to see the trust deed. However, in most other cases the LSE should accept a scanned copy of the first few pages of the trust deed.
Entities other than trusts are obliged to provide information such as their official registry details and business address.
All LEI information will be consolidated into one publicly-available database.
Registration for an LEI is open now. As there may be a rush for numbers towards the end of the year ahead of the deadline, it may be wise to apply for one sooner rather than later.
In the first instance, please contact your usual Bishop Fleming advisor to see if your entity needs to obtain an LEI.