Paragraph 15 of Schedule 2 to the 1986 Act governs when and how access to the register of members of a building society may be obtained. Subject to the exception provided for in paragraph 15(1) of Schedule 2, access may only be granted on a direction by the Authority. Paragraph 15(2) of Schedule 2 provides that a member may, if qualified to do so, make a written application to the Authority to exercise the right to obtain members names and addresses from the register of the society of which he or she is also a member, for the purposes of communicating with those other members of the society on a subject relating to its affairs. The text of the relevant legislation is at Annex 1.
Paragraph 15(1) of Schedule 2 provides for an exception to the requirement to make an application to the Authority. Where the Authority has cancelled a societys permission to accept deposits and the society has not had its permission reinstated by the Authority, a member of that society has the right to obtain the names and addresses of its members from the register without application to the Authority. In this case, the applicant is not required to have been a member for any specified period but the minimum shareholding or minimum mortgage debt requirements described in paragraph BSOG 1A.3.3 G may still apply.
A member is qualified for the purposes of obtaining access under paragraph 15(1) or (2) of Schedule 2 if, under the rules of the society, he or she may join in a members requisition for a special meeting or in nominating a person for election as a director. This means that the applicant must be an investing or borrowing member of the society. If the societys rules prescribe a minimum investment or mortgage debt the member must hold shares or have a mortgage debt of at least that amount. The minimum cannot exceed 100 in either case (which figure the Treasury may change by Order). In cases covered by paragraph 15(2) of Schedule 2, the society may also require the applicant to have been a member for such period as may be specified in its rules. In most cases this is two years (the maximum permitted by the 1986 Act).
An application under paragraph 15(2) of Schedule 2 is subject to the payment of a reasonable fee, currently 25, to the Authority. Where an application is made, the Authoritymay direct the society to give the member access to the register provided the Authorityis satisfied that:
Before giving a direction, the Authority is required to give particulars of the application to the building society concerned and to give it the opportunity to make representations. If either the applicant or the society so requests, the Authority must give both the opportunity of being heard by it.
If the Authority directs that the applicant shall have the right to obtain access to the register, the applicant may apply in writing to the society, describing the subject on which it is proposed to communicate with other members of the society. The society is required to give the applicant all necessary information as to where the register is kept and reasonable facilities (including office accommodation) for inspecting it and taking copies of any names and addresses.
Information obtained by the applicant from the register of the society concerned and relating to a member of that society may not be disclosed to any other persons without the consent of that member whose name and address has been taken from the register. Nor may it be disclosed for purposes not connected with the purposes given at the time the Authority made its direction. Contravention of these requirements is a criminal offence.
Paragraph 6 of Schedule 14 to the 1986 Act provides that any dispute as to the rights of a member under paragraph 15 of Schedule 2 shall be referred to the Authority and treated as a reference to arbitration; and its award shall have the same effect as that of an arbitrator in a reference under paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 14.