Political parties and other not-for-profit bodies registered under the Companies Ordinance should not be required to disclose membership registers, says the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. The watchdog said a court challenge would be the only option if the government refused to exempt non-profit bodies from compulsory disclosure. The Democrats have refused to follow the example of other major parties in opening up their register after it was discovered that registration under the Companies Ordinance meant parties had to reveal members' names, like companies disclosing shareholder identities. Non-compliance could result in a $10,000 fine and $300 a day thereafter. The Democrats have vowed to file a court challenge if needed. Yesterday, the Human Rights Monitor said the legislation was drawn up in 1934 and mirrored a British law enacted in the Victorian era. The watchdog's director, Law Yuk-kai, said the shareholder disclosure arrangement served to enable recovery of outstanding debts in the event of bankruptcy. With the majority of registrations now covering limited companies, Mr Law argued the requirement was no longer meaningful. He said studies showed that countries such as the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand had no compulsory disclosure on political party membership. 'On the contrary, in Britain a party cannot confirm, on privacy grounds, whether someone is a member unless that person has agreed to disclose,' he said. Watchdog chairwoman Cyd Ho Sau-lan said the requirement would infringe on the freedom of association guaranteed by international human rights treaties applicable to Hong Kong. She said the Democratic Party should take the case to court if the government refused to amend the law.