Companies House have announced that the first set of measures under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act are planned for 4th March 2024
What is happening?
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act came into force in October 2023. The Act is designed to give Companies House new and enhanced powers to improve the quality and reliability of data to tackle economic crime and improve corporate transparency. We first covered the Act late last year in this post.
What changes are planned for the 4th March?
The changes, expected on the 4th of March 2024, will include the following:
1. Stronger powers to query information
2. Greater scrutiny of company names
3. New rules for registered company addresses
4. Mandatory provision of a registered email address
5. Requirement for companies to confirm lawful purpose
Greater powers for Companies House
Companies House will have the powers to scrutinise information as well as reject information that may be incorrect or inconsistent with that already held on your companies register and, in some cases, remove information.
You should check the information that Companies House currently holds for you and your company is currently correct. For example, if you are a director of multiple companies e.g. group companies, you should ensure that your name is recorded accurately and consistently across all of your appointments.
For any future changes in company information, ensure that you are submitting accurate information in a timely manner.
More scrutiny of company names
Currently when setting up a company, you are required check that your name is not already used by another registered company and if your name is too similar to another company, you may have to make a change if someone makes a complaint.
Under the new Act, Companies House is bringing in stronger checks on company names to tackle their misuse, especially where they give false or misleading impressions to the public.
If you are thinking about incorporating a new company, we advise you to think carefully about the name you are considering using and conduct appropriate checks.
New rules for registered office addresses
At present companies are required to provide Companies House with a registered office address.
The changes will provide new guidance around ‘appropriate addresses’. These must ensure that documents sent to such address can be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company and allow for acknowledgment of delivery.
In the future you will not be able to use a PO box for your company’s registered office address. Failure to comply with the rules may result in Companies House using its stricter powers to remove any non-compliant office addresses from the register.
New companies must provide this information on incorporation, while existing companies must update this in their next confirmation statement if required.
Mandatory provision of a registered email address
This is a new requirement for all companies. A company must provide a registered email address that will be used for official communications from Companies House. This will not be publicly available on Companies House. Companies will have a duty to maintain an appropriate registered email address in the same way as a registered office address and not doing so will be considered an offence and penalties will be incurred
New companies must ensure any contact email addresses meet this requirement upon incorporation while existing companies must provide this when filing their next confirmation statement.
Ahead of your next confirmation statement consider what would be an appropriate email address for your company, bearing in mind that this will be used to communicate important information to you about your company.
Statement of lawful purpose
The current expectation is that a company is formed for and operates in a lawful way. Under the new measures Companies House will require subscribers (shareholders) to confirm at incorporation that a company has been formed for a lawful purpose.
Existing companies must confirm the legality of their planned future activities in their next and future confirmation statements.
Failure to confirm these declarations may result in the rejection of documents by Companies House.
If you are a Devant Company Secretarial client we will highlight this declaration when preparing your next confirmation statement after this measure has been implemented.
As UK company law undergoes significant change, it is essential for companies and stakeholders to keep abreast of these changes. Early preparation for the new rules on registered office addresses, registered email addresses and lawful purpose statements will pave the way for a compliant and resilient business environment.
For all of our current Company Secretarial Clients, we will be in touch individually to support you in making the required changes. If you would like to know more about these developments and how you can benefit from Devant’s Company Secretarial Service, please contact us.