LEGAL INFORMATION AND UPDATE
法律快訊

8th Issue (July 2019)

第八期 (2019年7月)

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Disclosure Requirements for Non-Hong Kong Companies – A Reminder
非香港公司的披露规定 – 提示

Introduction

The Non-Hong Kong Companies (Disclosure of Company Name, Place of Incorporation and Members’ Limited Liability) Regulation (Cap. 622M of the Laws of Hong Kong) (“Regulation”), will commence operation on 1 August 2019.  The Regulation re-enacts the existing provision of section 792 of the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (“Companies Ordinance”) which will be repealed when the Regulation comes into effect.

 

1. Definition of Non-Hong Kong Company

Section 2 of the Companies Ordinance defines a non-Hong Kong company as a company incorporated outside Hong Kong that establishes a place of business in Hong Kong (“Non-Hong Kong Company”).  According to the case law, a place of business is not established if a company merely instructs agents to act on its behalf in Hong Kong or a person acting on behalf of a company makes periodic visits to an occasional location to carry on business in Hong Kong.

 

2. A Summary of Disclosure Requirements under the Regulation

The disclosure requirements of Non-Hong Kong Companies under the Regulation are in essence similar to the provisions in section 792 of the Companies Ordinance, which are non-exhaustively summarized below:

 

  • Displaying continuously the company name and place of incorporation at every business venue, meaning an office or a place in Hong Kong where the company carries on its business and that is open to the public or the principal place of business of the company in Hong Kong (“Business Venue”).  The name and place of incorporation must be easily seen by any visitor to the Business Venue;

 

  • Stating the company name and place of incorporation in every communication document and transaction instrument of the company in Hong Kong.  Communication document means a business letter, notice or other official publication of the company; whilst transaction instrument includes a contract, cheque, invoice or receipt signed or issued by the company; and

 

  • If the liability of the members of the company is limited, exhibiting conspicuously a notice of that fact at every Business Venue and stating that fact in every communication document and transaction instrument of the company in Hong Kong.  A company with the word “Limited” in its name is sufficient to illustrate that the liability of its members is limited.

 

The Regulation further provides clarity as to the adequacy of certain descriptions of Non-Hong Kong Companies, aligning the requirements to those of local companies.  In particular, the Regulation provides that the name of a Non-Hong Kong Company is legally acceptable when abbreviations or symbols such as “Co.”, “Ltd.”, “HK” and “&” are used in the name of the company.  For example, the name “ABC Hong Kong Company Limited” of a Non-Hong Kong Company can be displayed as “ABC HK Co. Ltd.” so as to satisfy the requirements of the Regulation.

 

3. Other Obligations in Establishing and Maintaining Non-Hong Kong Companies

Apart from the requirements stated in the Regulation discussed above, other obligations in the maintenance and establishment of a Non-Hong Kong Company include but not limited to the following:

 

  • Applying for registration with the Hong Kong Companies Registry (“Companies Registry”) as a Non-Hong Kong Company within 1 month after establishing a place of business in Hong Kong;

 

  • Appointing a Hong Kong resident, a firm of solicitors or certified public accountants as the authorized representative of the company, who is authorized to accept on its behalf service of any process or notice required to be served on the company;

 

  • Obtaining a Business Registration Certificate;

 

  • Filing an Annual Return with the Companies Registry with its latest published accounts (if applicable) annually.  The filing of accounts will not be required if the Non-Hong Kong Company is neither required by (i) the law of the place of its incorporation, (ii) the laws of any other jurisdictions where the company is registered as a company, nor (iii) the rules of any stock exchange or similar regulatory bodies in that jurisdiction, to (a) publish its accounts or (b) deliver copies of its accounts to any person in whose office the accounts may be inspected as of right by members of the public; and

 

  • Informing the Companies Registry of any changes in the company’s charter or governing statutes, directors, company secretary, authorized representative, registered office, principal place of business and corporate name.

 

Meanwhile, a registered Non-Hong Kong Company is not required to keep a significant controllers register in Hong Kong.

 

4. Practical Takeaways

The enactment of the Regulation does not significantly change the legal requirements in relation to Non-Hong Kong Companies.  Yet, section 8 of the Regulation provides that if a Non-Hong Kong Company fails to adhere to the disclosure requirements provided under the Regulation, the company, every responsible person of the company, and every agent of the company who authorizes or permits the company to not adhere to the Regulation shall commit an offence and is liable to a fine.  As such, it is recommended that careful review should be conducted to ensure compliance of the Regulation and all relevant legal requirements if a Non-Hong Kong Company has been or will be established in Hong Kong.

IMPORTANT

Please note that the information above is a preliminary overview of this specialized area of law. As every case depends on its facts, it is imperative to state that the above does not constitute formal legal advice. We do not accept any responsibility whatsoever in respect of this publication. Should you wish to seek our advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you wish to unsubscribe, please inform us by email at mail@allawyers.com.hk.

简介

《非香港公司(披露香港名称、成立为法团所在地方及成员的有限法律责任)规例》(香港法例第622M章)(「该规例」)将於2019年8月1日开始实施。该规例自实施之日起,将重新制定并废除现行《公司条例》(香港法例第622章)(「公司条例」)第792条。

 

一、非香港公司的定义

根据公司条例第2条,非香港公司是指在香港以外地方成立为法团并在香港设立营业地点的公司(「非香港公司」)。根据案例,若一家公司仅指使代理为其在香港行事或一名为该公司行事的人士定期到访一个临时性的地点以在香港经营业务,该公司均不视为设立营业地点。

二、该规例下披露规定的摘要

 

非香港公司在该规例下的披露规定与公司条例第792条的规定在本质上相似,以下将简要概述该规例下的披露规定:

 

 

  • 非香港公司需持续地在每个业务场所(即非香港公司在香港经营业务的办事处或地点,并向公众开放者;或非香港公司在香港的主要营业地点)(「业务场所」)展示其名称及成立为法团所在的地方﹔该等讯息需置于可让业务场所的访客易于看见的位置﹔

  • 非香港公司需在其於香港的每份通讯文件及交易文书上述明其公司名称及成立为法团所在的地方。通讯文件是指非香港公司的业务信件、通知或其他正式刊物;交易文书包括由非香港公司签署或出具的合约、支票、发票或收据﹔及

 

 

  • 若非香港公司成员的法律责任是有限度的,非香港公司需在其每个业务场所,显眼地展示关于该事实的告示及在其於香港的每份通讯文件及交易文书上述明该事实。如非香港公司的公司名称包含「有限」二字,这足以显示该事实。

 

该规例亦进一步明确地对非香港公司的描述提供指引,此方面的规定与适用於本地公司的相关规定渐趋一致。在该规例下,非香港公司可以使用缩写「Co.」、「Ltd.」、「HK」及符号「&」。所以,一家名为「ABC Hong Kong Company Limited」的非香港公司展示其名称为「ABC HK Co. Ltd.」,已可符合该规例的要求。

 

三、设立及维持非香港公司的其他义务

除了上述在该规例下的规定,关于设立及维持非香港公司的其他义务包括但不限于:

 

 

 

  • 在香港设立营业地点后的一个月内向香港公司注册处(「公司注册处」)申请注册为「注册非香港公司」;

 

 

  • 委任获授权代表(即一名香港居民、律师事务所或会计师事务所)代非香港公司接受任何需向该公司送达的法律程序文件或通知;

  • 取得商业登记证;

 

  • 每年向公司注册处交付周年申报表及最近发表的账目(如适用)。如(1)非香港公司成立为法团所在地方的法律,或(2)在其注册成为公司所在的任何其他司法管辖区的法律,以及(3)该司法管辖区的任何证券交易所或類似的监管机构的规章,均没有规定公司须(a)发表其账目,或(b)将其账目的文本交付某人而公众人士有权在该人的办事处查阅该账目,则该非香港公司无需向公司注册处提交账目﹔及

 

  • 及时向公司注册处通报任何涉及非香港公司的宪章、章程、董事、公司秘书、获授权代表、注册办事处、主要营业地点及公司名称的变更。

 

但是,注册非香港公司无需在香港备存重要控制人登记册。

四、本文要点

该规例的实施并没有对适用於非香港公司的法律规定作出重大改变。但是,根据该规例的第8条,如非香港公司违反该规例的相关披露规定,该公司、其每名责任人及每名授权或准许该公司违反该规例的代理人,均属犯法及可面临罚款。有见及此,本所建议设立非香港公司前后均需仔细审阅及确保遵守该规例及其他相关法律规定。

重要提示

本文内容仅为此专门的法律领域提供初步概览。由于个案的事实会有所不同,本所务必提醒阁下以上的数据不构成本所提供的正式法律意见。本所亦不就本文的刊登承担任何法律责任。如需本所的专业意见或协助,请与本所联络。如阁下将来不希望收到本所的法律快讯,请通过电邮方式通知本所(mail@allawyers.com.hk)。