The primary aims of the ECCTA are to enhance corporate transparency and reduce economic crime, therefore providing increased benefit to the UK economy, for both businesses, and individuals. To facilitate these aims, the Act implements provisions about companies, limited partnerships and other corporate entities, including the registration of overseas entities and the individuals associated with them.
As part of implementation of the Act, Companies House will have new and enhanced powers to improve the quality of the information held on the Companies Register. Companies and individuals will also be required to comply with their obligations to deliver documentation on time and in the correct format.
A number of the changes are being implemented from March 2024; these are outlined below. The changes will apply to incorporated entities, limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships. It will also apply to their members and directors.
Appropriate registered postal and email addresses
Companies will need to ensure their registered office address is “appropriate”, meaning that any document delivered to that address would be reasonably expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company, and acknowledgement of delivery can be provided. For these reasons, PO Boxes will no longer be permitted as registered office addresses. Companies will also need to supply an appropriate email address with their next confirmation statement. As part of the transition, we understand Companies House will communicate to companies both by post and by email, with an eventual move to email-only communication.
On incorporation, the subscribers (the members of the entity at point of incorporation) will need to make a statement that the entity is being formed for a lawful purpose. A similar statement will be required for all entities on their next confirmation statement, confirming that all intended future activities are lawful.
Greater powers for Companies House
The Registrar will have enhanced powers to scrutinise, query and reject information it believes to be incorrect or inconsistent with information already held on the Register. In some cases, the Registrar will have the power to remove previously filed information. Annotations will also be made public on the Register to make stakeholders aware of potential issues with information supplied.
Enforcement and sanctions
Companies House will be given greater power to take action where a company, and its directors, do not respond to formal requests for information, or where their registered office is not an appropriate address. Sanctions could include financial penalties, annotations on the company’s public record, or even in the most severe cases prosecution
In addition to the above, Companies House will be closing their Belfast office to the public from 4 March 2024. Therefore, filing paper documents, including financial statements and confirmation statements in person will not be possible at the Belfast office from that date. Individuals wishing to file information in paper format will need to post the documents to the Registrar’s office in Cardiff. Electronic filing options are available for almost all documents, and Companies House are encouraging companies to avail of these filing options, as they phase out paper filings.
Further information on the remaining significant changes, such as the identity verification requirements and changes in filing options, will be available in the coming months from Companies House. Our article on the enactment of the ECCTA and its key provisions can be found on our website.
For further information on the Act, and to find out how Grant Thornton (NI) LLP can assist you in navigating these changes, please contact Louise Kelly