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Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008

Background

3.There are many bank and building society accounts that are lying dormant and unclaimed, often because people have forgotten about them. A number of countries have introduced unclaimed assets schemes to manage such accounts. These include Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain and the United States. These schemes have a variety of different features.

4.It was announced in the UK 2005 Pre-Budget Report that the Government had taken the view that an unclaimed assets scheme should be established in the UK. The objective was a scheme which both preserved the rights of the individual customer and at the same time allowed unclaimed assets to be reinvested in the community.

5.The Treasury have undertaken two consultations with regard to the establishment of an unclaimed assets scheme. The first, “A UK Unclaimed Asset Scheme: a consultation”, was published in March 2007. The second consultation, “Unclaimed assets distribution mechanism: a consultation”, was published in May 2007.

6.The Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons has conducted an inquiry into unclaimed assets. It published its report in August 2007. The Government’s response to the Committee was published in October 2007.

7.Arrangements already exist under UK law for dealing with dormant bank accounts belonging to charities. Under section 28 of the Charities Act 1993, the Charity Commission has powers in England and Wales to direct funds held in dormant charity accounts to be transferred to another charity. Similar powers exist for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator(1) and for the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland(2).

8.Arrangements also exist for ownerless property (known as bona vacantia), to pass by law to the Crown. Bona vacantia includes assets that belonged to dissolved companies and to people who have died intestate, with no known kin.

1

See sections 47 and 48 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

2

See section 48 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

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