UK government to investigate Scottish limited partnerships

By Alice Telfer, Head of Business and Public Sector, ICAS Policy Leadership

2 February 2017

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched an investigation into Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs).

The consultation is prompted by concerns, including media reports alleging that some SLPs are being used for criminal activity. It also seeks to understand why there is a significant increase in the number of such Limited Partnerships registered in Scotland.

Making the UK a trusted place for business

As part of the drive to make the UK an attractive place to set up and do business, recent reforms have been enacted to enhance transparency requirements in order to tackle tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing.

In 2016, the UK Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEEA) introduced reforms to enhance transparency. This includes a register of beneficial ownership known as the Register of People with Significant Control. Limited companies and some other entities which have their own legal personality are required to publish details of people with significant control.

The SBEEA also included reforms to prohibit the use of corporate directors with limited exceptions. The reforms focused on the main corporate forms under company law; SLPs were not considered.

SLPs under the spotlight

The consultation recognises SLPs are important investment vehicles and may be suitable for other legitimate business purposes. However, if there is evidence that they are providing a vehicle for criminal activity, further regulatory action may be considered by the UK government.

There has been a recent increase in the number of limited partnerships registered in Scotland in comparison to those registered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

BEIS’ consultation paper - review of limited partnership law explains how SLPs are lightly regulated with fewer requirements to publish information relating to the entity or the partners of the entity than other corporate organisations.

Send us your views

The UK government is seeking to better understand how these partnerships are being used and is requesting views and evidence on:

  • the possible reasons why registration of limited partnerships in Scotland has increased
  • the value limited partnerships bring to the UK economy as a whole
  • how the wider limited partnership framework operates and whether any changes need to be made.

More information can be found in the consultation paper.

If you have experience on the use of Scottish limited partnerships, we would welcome your views for an ICAS response to this consultation.


  • Business

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