Companies House Reform – change begins on 4 March 2024
The Companies House reform is a significant transformation in company law and is a measure under the new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act, with this first tranche of changes coming into effect from 4 March 2024. The Act which received Royal Assent on 26 October last year aims to disrupt economic crime and support economic growth, with these changes aimed to provide Companies House additional powers to support that endeavour.
The key changes coming into effect from 4 March 2024 are:
- Greater power to query information: Companies House will have increased authority to review, query and reject information filed. This will include the power to request supporting evidence for a filing.
- Stronger checks on company names: Enhancement of the powers of Companies House to review and check company names.
- New rules for registered office addresses: Companies must provide an ‘appropriate address’ as their registered office. An appropriate address is one that ensures any documents sent to the company are received by the appropriate people and that the delivery can be acknowledged, so this eliminates the use of PO Box addresses as registered offices. Any companies using PO Boxes as registered offices should change these as a matter of urgency to be compliant by the 4 March 2024.
- Registered email address: All companies will need to provide an email address when they file their next confirmation statement. This address will not be in the public domain but will be used by the Companies House to communicate with the company, so needs to be monitored by appropriate personnel.
- Lawful purpose statement: On incorporation all companies must confirm they are forming the company for a lawful purpose. Existing companies will need to make this lawful purpose statement when they next file their confirmation statement.
- Annotating the Register: Companies House will have the power to annotate any information on the register that they consider to be confusing or misleading.
- Cleaning up the Register: These changes will provide Companies House the ability to use data matching techniques to identify and remove inaccurate information and thus take steps to clean up the Register.
- Data sharing: Companies House will for the first-time share data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies as part of a wider crackdown on illegal companies and to aid in transparency in the fight against economic crime.
Whilst these changes are expected to be effective from 4 March 2024, they current remain subject to secondary legislation being approved by parliament.
Please remember this is just the start to the changes, whilst a timetable has yet to be announced the reform will continue and will include identity verification, streamlining of accounts filing options for small and micro entities and transitioning towards ixbrl only submission of accounts.
For further information please speak to your regular Ensors contact, or check out Get ready for changes to UK company law – Companies House (blog.gov.uk).